It’s not uncommon for some people to wake up at night with the munchies. You may even have spent a late night out doing some work or out with friends, and you need some food before you sleep.
However, your choice can also impact your sleep. Choose wrong, and you may end up tossing and turning instead of gently going to sleep.
Before you start munching, make sure you avoid the following snacks:
- Spicy foods. Peppery and spicy foods may bring some health benefits, but they’re not really good for your sleep. The chemicals in the spices can wake up your senses, so it’ll be harder to fall asleep. The spice can also lead to an upset stomach, and that can keep you from sleeping right away as well.
- Large portions. Whatever you eat, don’t eat too much. It’s a midnight snack, not a meal. That means you have to keep it to below 200 calories. If your stomach is too full, you won’t relax and fall asleep, plus you’ll also worry about the extra calorie you consumed.
- Proteins like red meat. Red meat sits in your stomach for a while, and it’ll be hard to fall asleep while you’re digesting. Not all protein is bad, but you have to stick to lean and small portions.
- High-carb snacks. Sugary concoctions can disrupt your blood sugar and energy levels, and that can really mess up your sleep cycle.
- Fat-filled or greasy foods. You need to stay away from fast food as well as ice cream and extra-cheesy snacks. These heavy foods will keep you awake as your stomach works in overdrive while digesting. You’ll then wake up sluggish the next day.
The Right Choices
So what snacks and food items should you choose to help encourage a good night’s sleep? Try out any of these food items first before you reach for your sleeping pills:
- A single banana can sate your hunger and also help you to fall asleep. It contains magnesium and tryptophan, so it works like a natural sedative. Also, it contains lots of potassium and that’s a crucial mineral for getting enough deep sleep during the night.
- Whole grain. If you’re feeling somewhat restless before your bedtime, a bit of whole grain bread can do the trick. With whole grains, your body produces more insulin, and that enables your neural pathways to receive tryptophan. This tryptophan is an amino acid that works as a sedative.
- Warm milk. Your mom is right—the warm milk she insists you drink before bedtime can actually help you sleep better. Dairy contains tryptophan, and that amino acid induces sleep. Even the calcium in the milk helps boost the effect of the tryptophan.
- If you’re drinking warm milk before you get to sleep, you may want to think about adding some honey. The honey contains glucose that reduces your orexin levels. Orexin is a neurotransmitter that boosts your alertness levels, and you really don’t want to be super-alert when you want to get ready for bed.
- This is one example of protein that’s not bad for your sleep as long as you don’t eat too much of it. Again, the key here is that poultry meat like turkey and chicken contain tryptophan. Just put a small slice of it between your whole wheat bread and you’re good to go.
- Chamomile tea. This is another traditional drink for bedtime, and this time folk medicine is right. Just make sure you pick the non-caffeinated version, of course. The chamomile herb can really calm you down, and that can prepare your mind and body for sleep.
- If you’re having some tea, you may want to add a hardboiled egg so you can satisfy your food cravings. Having poached eggs on whole grain bread is another good alternative. Eggs contain tryptophan, and that will make you sleepy.
- Drinking alcohol before bedtime isn’t really a good idea, as the alcohol will disrupt your deep sleep. But you can munch on the grapes used to make the wines, such as the Cabernet and Merlot. Grapes contain plenty of melatonin, which is marketed these days as a sleep supplement.
- If you can’t find grapes, then cherries will do just fine. They’re high in melatonin too. A recent study confirmed that people with insomnia can improve their sleep if they regularly eat cherries or drink cherry juice.
- Get a small bowl of yogurt with your favorite toppings and you’re all set. The yogurt has calcium that you need to process sleep-inducing hormones like melatonin and tryptophan.
Just remember that you shouldn’t eat too much, and you’re good. Don’t eat in bed, so you don’t mess your mattress (especially if it’s a gorgeous handcrafted Vividus from Hastens Mattress). You can satisfy your cravings, and still get a good night’s rest afterwards.