Difficulty sleeping is a common issue that is estimated to affect between 50 and 70 million Americans. It affects men and women, often resulting in reduced cognitive function and productivity
Many people seek to overcome the issue by using sleeping pills. Unfortunately, these can be addictive, potentially creating another array of issues. The good news is that you can overcome many sleeping issues by simply consuming the right healthy snacks before bed!
Why Bedtime Snacks?
Many people believe that bedtime snacks increase the likelihood of weight gain. However, research shows that providing you stay within your target calorie range, it doesn’t matter what time of the day or night you eat. Healthy snacks before bed can help you to sleep better, providing you choose the right snacks!
You may be surprised by the options available:
The 6 Best Food Before Bed
1. Greek Yogurt & Cherries
Greek yogurt is surprisingly high in protein which realizes slowly into your body. This encourages you to feel full, increasing the likelihood of drowsiness. Adding a few cherries to your yogurt improves the flavor of natural Greek yogurt. But, cherries are also full of melatonin. This is the chemical that tells you it’s time to rest, effectively helping your body to prepare for sleep.
Nuts are high in calories. That means you need just a few of them, an ounce is usually enough. They contain magnesium and potassium. These chemicals regulate your nervous system and relaxes your muscles. Nuts also contain vitamin B6 which is great at converting tryptophan into serotonin. This is the hormone that makes you feel good. If you feel content you’re more likely to sleep better.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are also full of magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B6, helping your body to unwind and prepare you for bed. Don’t worry about the carbohydrate content, this helps your brain absorb tryptophan, allowing it to be converted to niacin and then serotonin.
Avocados are packed full of potassium, helping your body to relax and fall asleep. One serving contains approximately 10% of your daily needs!
5. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is delicious and a great way to treat yourself at any time of the day. However, if you take it as one of your bedtime snacks you’ll find it boosts the levels of endorphins in your body, specifically serotonin.
Feeling content will help you drift to sleep. But, remember, chocolate is also full of calories, one ounce is enough as a bedtime snack.
6. Warm Milk
Warm milk has been used for years to help people go to sleep. It’s not just an old wives’ tale. The calcium in milk is also capable of helping your brain absorb tryptophan and start the process of creating melatonin. In short, warm milk really can make you feel sleepier.
If you are not keen on milk then a little cheese or cottage cheese can be an option. But, as always, moderation is the key.
Why Bedtime Snacks Work
The best food before bed is one that you enjoy, leaves you feeling full, and triggers the right chemical response in your brain. All the above six bedtime snacks accomplish this and will help your body prepare for sleep.
This makes it easier to fall asleep and the fullness means you’re more likely to stay asleep.
As mentioned, providing the calories absorbed by these foods are within your daily allowance there will be no detrimental effects of bedtime snacking.
It’s not just the chemical effects that help. Having a regular bedtime snack will also create a routine that helps you psychologically prepare for bed. Just as children benefit from routines, so can your body. This starts with a consistent bedtime and awakening time. Adding a snack before bed becomes part of this routine which allows you to fall asleep more easily, ideally without using sleeping pills.
The Final Snack
The decision regarding the best food before bed is personal. It will depend on your taste buds. But, it is important to steer clear of excess and sweets. Excess may help you to sleep but is also likely to encourage weight gain. Sweets, on the other hand, will boost blood sugar levels making you feel energized. This feeling may only last for a short while but it will still hinder your ability to fall asleep.
Start a new habit with the above healthy bedtime snacks and you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to get to sleep. If you’re still struggling you’ll need to see a professional to find out if there is an underlying issue.