We’ve all heard some variation on the common Sleep Tip that eating before bed is the absolute worst thing you can do for yourself. But like many cautionary tales of yore, the truth is hidden beneath the hysteria.
Eating before bed actually isn’t the worst thing for you. In fact, the simple act has the potential to help a person fall asleep faster, assist with the body’s metabolism, and stabilize hunger and cravings.
The key is knowing what to eat and how much. Saying that it’s not always bad to eat before bed is not a green light to chow down on a second dinner or box of cookies minutes before you lay down.
Small portions of (certain) healthy foods are what a person should plan for if they are simply too hungry to think about sleeping. And, of course, there are plenty of things to avoid (but we’ll save that for the end).
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Best Before Bed Bites
Tryptophan Treats: We’ve all come to associate tryptophan with turkey, and turkey with post-Thanksgiving dinner naps. That’s because tryptophan increases the body’s production of serotonin, or what some people refer to as the body’s natural sleeping drug.
Foods high in tryptophan include:
- Nuts and seeds
- Wild salmon
But don’t stop there. Combining these foods with carbohydrate-containing foods will help the brain absorb the serotonin.
- Whole wheat bread
- Whole grain pasta
- Whole grain cereal
Complex carbohydrates also provide fibre (to help with your “morning constitution”), vitamins, and minerals. And since they break down slowly, your blood sugar levels stay steady instead of spiking and crashing.
Healthy Fats: Since carbs release sugar, fats can help slow the absorption of glucose so that you don’t wake up suddenly hungry.
- Olive oil (over popcorn)
- Full fat yogurt
Chew on Cherries: This delicious pitted fruit is a rare natural food-based source of melatonin. You might have heard of melatonin used as a common sleep aid.
Magnesium Dreams: It’s reported that eating foods high in magnesium can help boost the quality and length of a person’s sleep.
Foods high in magnesium include:
- Green leafy veggies like spinach and kale
You might notice that there are some foods in multiple categories. That’s great news, and it makes it easy to remember what’s good to eat before bed.
Here are some great food pairings and bedtime snacks:
- Nut butter on whole grain crackers
- Mashed avocado with sesame seeds
- Hard boiled egg and a slice of whole wheat toast
- Yogurt (full fat) and sugar-free cereal
- Small bowl of quinoa sprinkled with sesame seeds
Foods to avoid
We’ll make this quick since you probably know what foods are best to avoid before bed. They include snacks with caffeine, lots of sugar, and unhealthy fats.
- Caffeinated coffee and tea (even decaf coffee has some caffeine in it and beware of green tea!)
- Sugary drinks like soda or juice
- Candy, cookies or ice cream
- Unhealthy fats like potato chips and anything fried
And there you have it. Unfortunately, we can’t encourage people to eat all the things most people want to eat before bed, like junk food. But we hope this will help stave off those cravings while enjoying some delicious healthy food so that you can sleep deep and wake rested.