Getting enough quality sleep each night is essential for our overall health and well-being, yet many of us are not getting nearly enough. In fact, some 51% of adults worldwide report not sleeping enough per night, and that’s a big deal.
Sleep is an essential bodily function that helps balance our hormones and mood, restore energy levels, process memories and more. Not getting enough affects everything from our immune system, mental health and heart health to memory and overall cognitive function, and it can also increase the risk for anxiety and depression.
While there are many factors that come into play when it comes to quality sleep, like your sleep environment, whether or not you exercise, blue light emitted from electronic devices, an abundance of stress and anxiety, etc, there is a big one you might not have taken into account: that what you eat affects how you sleep.
So, what is a good snack before bed?
What Foods Are Good to Eat Before Bed?
Here’s the deal: the foods you eat both during the day as well as before bed can both help or hinder your overall sleep quality.
Let’s dive into a list of the best foods and drinks to include before bed for a better night’s rest.
You may have heard that you need to cut off all eating a few hours before bedtime, and for some that might be true. But this isn’t a one size fits all approach!
Many of us benefit from having a little food in our stomach in order to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Does eating food before bed cause nightmares? Actually, a snack before bedtime is OK! But the keyword is small though, as eating a heavy meal right before bedtime forces your digestive system to work overtime and can actually hinder the sleep process .
So, what foods help you fall asleep?
1. Foods High in Tryptophan
Tryptophan is a sleep-promoting amino acid found in certain foods. The one you’re probably most familiar with? Turkey. Yep, tryptophan is the reason we like to hit the couch for a little snooze after a big Thanksgiving meal.
Tryptophan helps the body produce both melatonin and serotonin. These two chemicals aid in restful sleep and help you wake up feeling rested the next morning, respectfully.
How can you sleep better at night with foods rich in tryptophan? Almonds are a great source of tryptophan and healthy fats, as well as magnesium - another important mineral for sleep.
Magnesium, a natural relaxant, helps you get to sleep by steadying your heart rate and reducing muscle and nerve function in order to get you ready for a deep sleep. Avocados and yogurt are other good sources of magnesium.
2. Carbs Help You Sleep Better
It might sound counterintuitive, but hear us out! Carbohydrate-rich foods spike our body’s blood sugar levels, which triggers the production of insulin to bring them back down.
This is the reason for a burst of energy following a carb-loading session and that familiar crash shortly afterwards.
While according to some is not so useful during the middle of your workday perhaps, it can be used to our benefit at bedtime.
A late-night bowl of cereal with milk, cheese and crackers, buttered toast or oatmeal with fruit will easily do the trick, plus they all contain calcium, another mineral which helps your brain make melatonin.
3. Chamomile Tea for a Better Sleep
Not all tea is created equal and while green or black tea could keep you up, chamomile helps to do the opposite.
Chamomile tea contains antioxidants that promote sleepiness, reduce anxiety and may even boost your immune system. Toss in a spoonful of honey for extra relaxation and sleep quality.
Just one teaspoon of honey helps to stimulate the release of melatonin in the brain and shut off orexin- a chemical that regulates wakefulness, further helping you to ready yourself for some quality shut-eye.
4. Fatty fish
According to studies , fatty fish is high in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which have been positively associated with sleep efficiency.
Do you know what is in fish that makes you sleepy? Fatty fish like salmon, halibut, and tuna are a great source of vitamin B6, which our body uses to stimulate the production of melatonin. Other foods that do so are chocolate, nuts and seeds, rolled oats, bananas, and more.
Sleep is an essential, and sometimes neglected, factor of our overall health and wellness. Taking into account the foods and drinks you eat in the hours before bedtime can bolster your sleep hygiene and help you get a better night’s sleep!