What to Eat (and What Not to Eat) Before Bedtime
Our sleep is strongly influenced by what we eat and the quality of our diet. Follow these pointers to make sure you're eating the right food at the right time.
Good evening food #1: Poultry
Poultry tends to be a lean meat and chicken and turkey contain high levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes sleep. Keep the portion small, though: too much protein at night can make sleep more difficult.
Good evening food #2: Brown rice
Foods that contain high levels of complex carbohydrates may help you fall asleep faster. Furthermore, brown rice also contains high levels of sleep-promoting magnesium and vitamins B3 & B6.
Good evening food #3: Spinach
Spinach is high in tryptophan, magnesium, and vitamin B6 — all of which help create serotonin, which promotes calmness and drowsiness.
Good evening food #4: Whole wheat pasta
Whole grains are a great source of magnesium and B vitamins, which help the body absorb tryptophan. Look for the phrase "whole grain" at or near the top of the ingredients list.
Good evening food #5: Yogurt
Milk and yogurt contain high levels of melatonin, tryptophan, and calcium. You can boost the level of high quality carbohydrates by adding a banana, too.
Bad evening food #1: Steak
High fat and high protein foods are best avoided close to bedtime as they can take longer to digest and affect serotonin production, resulting in heightened levels of alertness.
Bad evening food #2: Chili
At night, our digestive system slows. This makes it harder to digest meals, so beans and other foods that can cause gas, heartburn or indigestion are best avoided.
Bad evening food #3: Spicy condiments
One study found that those who consumed mustard and hot sauce with their evening meals took longer to fall asleep and spent more time awake at night. This may be a result of the effect spices can have on our body temperature.
Bad evening food #4: Ice cream
The high levels of sugar and fat contained in ice cream put additional stress on the digestive system. Studies have confirmed that high sugar and saturated fat intake is linked to less restorative sleep and more night time awakenings.
Bad evening food #5: Chocolate
The double-whammy of sugar and caffeine act as a stimulant to the body, making it harder to relax and fall asleep. One ounce of dark chocolate can contain as much as 12mg of caffeine!
Quality and balance
Knowing how your body responds to certain foods can be helpful when it comes to improving your sleep. However, eating a varied and balanced diet is the absolute best way to give your body everything it needs for good sleep health.