Nutrition

Eating Before Bed? | What Foods Are Good Or Bad?

Eating before bed has long divided public opinion. For many people, eating before bedtime is part of their routine, and helps them to relax into sleep. Others, however, find that eating even a couple of hours before their bedtime has an adverse effect on their sleep – and their waistline. So who is right?

Well, as it turns out both camps can be right depending on the foods they eat. Some foods are very beneficial when eaten just before sleep. Other foods and drinks, however, can ruin your night. Here’s our quick guide to the best foods to ditch or devour when you are getting ready to sleep.

Best Foods To Eat Before Sleep

Oats

Although this food is often associated with the start of the day, oats can make a great sleep time snack. Oats encourage the body to produce melatonin, which makes you feel sleepy. It also helps your body create insulin and raises your blood sugar.

Oats are packed with nutrients, including protein, carbs and fibre. They are also excellent sources of magnese, zinc and iron.

Serving suggestion: double up your overnight oats recipe and keep half aside for bedtime. Serve it warm for an extra soothing effect.

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Almonds

These little nuts make a great snack throughout the day. They are often praised for being a filling source of healthy fats and protein. Almonds also provide the body with tryptophan and magnesium. This encourages the body to steady the heart rhythm, and reduce nerve and muscle function. This sounds dramatic, but it is simply a way for the body to wind down and have a satisfying slumber.

Serving suggestion: Keep a bag of almonds handy on your bedside table for a quick snack before you nod off. Alternatively, sprinkle them over some porridge or enjoy a nice glass of almond milk.

Bananas

These are a fruit that are usually associated with supporting boosts of energy and tough workouts although bananas can also fuel your rest. Bananas are a source of melatonin and serotonin, which make you feel sleepy. They are also high in magnesium which relaxes your muscles.

Serving suggestion: bananas require little effort, as they are a tasty snack on their own. However, you could mash them on toast with sprinkled almonds on top.

Honey

This natural sweet treat is a great accompaniment to your pre-sleep snack. Honey provides the body with melatonin which encourages sleep. It also discourages orexin, which can keep the body alert even when you want to nod off.  H

Honey is also a powerful antioxidant so it can help ward off harm within the body as you are resting. Opt for Manuka honey for the most impressive benefits.

Serving suggestion: just one teaspoon of the sweet stuff can help you get a better snooze. Drizzle it on some yoghurt, or use it to bind oats and almonds into a sticky flapjack mix.

Foods That Harm Sleep

As well as being able to encourage a good night’s rest with our food intake, we can also cause a poor night’s sleep through bad food choices.

Caffeine

This may seem an obvious one, but many people do not consider their evening cup of tea or pre-workout shake when wondering about their poor sleep. Go decaf and you may be surprised at your improved ability to nod off. Caffeine is a stimulant that can stay in your system for up to ten hours. So if in doubt, quit the caffeine early in the day.

Alcohol

Having a nightcap, or simply having alcohol in your system still, can leave a very restless sleep. While some people report that it helps them fall asleep, studies suggest the quality of the sleep will be poor. This means you will not fully recuperate in the night and will wake feeling tired.

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Fatty foods

A midnight treat may seem appealing, but I can wreak havoc on your sleep. Foods that are fatty are more likely to cause you heartburn. Not only that, they are difficult to digest, and this extra effort by the body may keep you awake.

Cheese

Despite being a popular after-dinner serving, cheese is poor for sleep. Cheese is a source of tyramine, which keeps your brain alert. As you can imagine, this does not help when trying to shut off to sleep. This could also prove the old wive’s tale that eating cheese before sleep gives you strange dreams.

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Spicy food

Foods with a kick should be avoided when you need a good night’s sleep. Chillis contain capsaicin, which stops the body efficiently regulating internal temperatures. This can lead to poor rest, as your body struggles to maintain a comfortable temperature.

So, will you be including a pre-bed snack into next week’s meal prep? It’s worth a try. A good night’s sleep will improve your day in so many ways. Good quality sleep is associated with maintaining a healthy weight, positive well-being and improved health. Plus, you’re way more likely to hit your workout goals when you feel rested and recuperated rather than tired out.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye has a MSc in Sport Physiology and Nutrition, and puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. She enjoys a pun, and in her spare time loves dog walking and eating out.


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