Traditional wisdom says that we shouldn’t eat before bed, but that’s not necessarily true. The myth that food eaten before bed will sit in your stomach all night and promote weight gain is actually false.
And you also aren’t likely to be kept awake by your body’s efforts at digestion – you can do all your other daily activities while digesting, after all.
Some dieticians are now recommending that you go ahead and make a habit of having a healthy bedtime snack in order to keep your blood sugar levels steady and provide the energy necessary to keep burning fat and rebuilding muscle all night long.
Eating before bed can help you fall asleep, as well. Feelings of hunger and a craving for food can be uncomfortable and distracting enough to keep us up.
Now, the wrong foods before bed can be troublesome. But as long as you make a good choice, there’s no reason not to have a little bedtime snack. Following are the five best choices for a nighttime nibble.
Bananas are a great bedtime snack because they contain high levels of magnesium and potassium, which work well together to relax muscles. They also contain a lot of vitamin B6, which helps in the production of serotonin, the peaceful-feeling hormone, and melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep.
Bananas also have a healthy dose of the amino acid tryptophan to further support the production of serotonin and melatonin. All that and just the right amount of sweetness to soothe a sugar craving make bananas an excellent bedtime choice.
Almonds are a great snack to carry you through 6-8 hours of sleep because they are rich in healthy fats that take some time to digest.
Especially if you are exercising regularly, sleep is when your muscles are working on rebuilding, and they need fuel to do that effectively. Almonds, like bananas, also contain magnesium and tryptophan to help your body relax and drift off to sleep.
Do you ever get that feeling that you just can’t sleep until you have a little taste of something sweet? Turns out, a bit of sugar at bedtime really does help your brain utilize sleep more effectively.
A spoonful of honey is a great option because it is a natural sugar that allows tryptophan to enter the brain easily, which in turn stimulates the release of melatonin and shuts off the production of orexin, which keeps the brain alert.
Oats are a carbohydrate that when digested, raise insulin levels in the blood. That allows tryptophan to enter the brain and get converted to serotonin.
A small bowl of oatmeal before bed can trigger this necessary process, but be aware that if you eat very much protein along with carbohydrates, the process is blocked. If you are on a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet and are having trouble sleeping, this may be the cause.
5. Kiwi fruit
Kiwi is both tart and sweet, making it a star at managing cravings. It contains a fair amount of folate and potassium, as well as vitamins C and K.
Eating kiwi fruit may also help to maintain digestive health, reduce inflammation, and reduce cholesterol due to a high level of fiber and carotenoid antioxidants. And of course, kiwis also deliver that all-important serotonin.
Recent studies revealed that participants who ate two kiwis one hour before bed each night fell asleep 42% faster than when they ate nothing before hitting the sack.
So there you have it. If your body is telling you that it’s hungry at bedtime, listen to it! If you make a habit of eating a little snack before bed, you will also be more prepared to make the right choice.
Tossing and turning for an hour, then giving up and eating greasy leftover takeout food won’t do the trick.
But a little bit of brain fuel, in the form of honey, fruit, or a complex carbohydrate, makes all the difference in your ability to not only turn off and fall asleep, but also to make effective use of your slumber and wake refreshed.
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