The best and worst foods to eat before bed

The best and worst foods to eat before bed

Posted by Sam Davies (Sleep Guru) on

Getting a good night’s sleep can be life changing.

When you wake up feeling rested it helps to put a pep in your step and gives you all the energy you need to make it through the day.

It also helps to lighten your mood and enhance your immunity, which promotes all-round health and wellbeing.

Today, in our go-go-go society, sleep has become more important than ever, so every little bit of advice we can get to achieve a deep, restful sleep can help.

One of the most important factors when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep is the food that you eat throughout the day and around bed time.

Many foods contain naturally occurring substances that can help to either wind you up or wind you down.

One study on the correlation between food and sleep found that those who ate a balanced diet, avoided stimulants and drank more water were more likely to achieve a restful sleep than those who didn’t.

While science is still determining the impact foods can have on sleep, here are some of the best and worst foods to eat before bed.

The Best Foods to Eat Before Bed

Walnuts: walnuts contain a natural source of tryptophan, an amino acid that is shown to stimulate relaxation and release melatonin. Melatonin is the “body clock” hormone, which helps to set your rhythm of sleep and can assist you to fall asleep faster.

Raw Honey: just a small teaspoon or two of raw honey has been shown to help induce a good nights sleep. Why? Honey contains a natural compound that helps the brain to shut off orexin, which is a chemical that is known to trigger alertness. Just be sure not to overdo it with the honey as it does contain natural sugars that can negatively impact on sleep.

Cherries or Cherry Juice: cherries are not only tasty but they are also a good source of melatonin, which can help you to feel sleepy and keep a regular sleep cycle. Just a small handful or cup of juice before bed can also assist you to reach a state of relaxation. The more tart the cherries, the stronger the effect.

Chamomile Tea: chamomile is a herb that has been used as a natural remedy to cure insomnia for years. In clinical studies, chamomile has also been shown to help reduce anxiety and calm any stresses before bed. Brew a strong cup of chamomile tea before bed and it should help to send you off to sleep.

Bananas: bananas are a rich source of magnesium and potassium which are two minerals associated with muscle relaxation. Eating a banana before bed can not only help to relax your body and release stress but it can also alleviate night cramps.

Almonds: almonds contain a rich source of calcium, which helps the body to generate melatonin and allows you to feel sleepy. Researchers have also found that the high magnesium content in almonds can also keep you asleep throughout the night.

Warm Milk: there is some merit to the old-wives-tale about having a cup of warm milk before bed to induce sleep. Milk contains calcium, which can help to release melatonin, but it also contains tryptophan, which can prepare and relax the body for sleep.

Jasmine Rice: one study found that those who consumed Jasmine Rice fell asleep faster compared to those who ate other types of rice. A reason for this is that jasmine rice has a high glycemic index, which can cause a drop in your energy levels shortly after eating.

Passionflower Tea: a cup of unsweetened passionflower tea consumed one hour before bed has been proven to help people sleep more soundly. This is due to the Harman alkaloids, which are contained in the passionfruit flower. It is believed that they assist to reduce stress and make you feel tired.

Salmon or Oily Fish: Fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help to release serotonin, a neurotransmitter that can reduce stress and promote feelings of relaxation. Having healthy fat before bed can also help you to wake up feeling more mentally alert.

Just like some foods can promote a good night sleep there are other foods that can jeopardise it. Here are Foods to avoid if you are looking for a peaceful sleep-

The Worst Foods to Eat Before Bed

Caffeine: it seems obvious but caffeine rich beverages such as coffee, energy drinks and some tea's can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Energy drinks also contain the amino acid, taurine which promotes a state of alertness and high blood pressure. For a peaceful sleep, try avoiding caffeine after 3pm.

Milk Chocolate: even though it is delicious, milk chocolate contains theobromine, which can act like a stimulant. If you have to have to enjoy chocolate before bed, try non-dark chocolate instead as it contains lower levels of theobromine. 

Alcohol: even though alcohol is a depressant, researchers have found that it can prevent the body from entering the deeper stages of sleep. While it may make you feel drowsy, chances are you won’t wake up feeling well rested.

Processed or Smoked Meats: most processed and smoked meats contain high levels of tyramine, which helps to promote a state of alertness. These types of meats can also interfere with magnesium and potassium levels, so be sure to stay clear of them after lunchtime.

Spicy Foods: spicy foods can be very stimulating for the body and can also cause heartburn and indigestion. Research has found that those who eat spicy foods before bed may also have difficulty staying asleep, especially if they are prone to heartburn.

Aged Cheese: even though we know calcium can help to induce sleepiness, aged cheeses such as Parmesan contain high levels of tyramine, an amino acid that is known to help keep you awake.

Steak: steak can be difficult to digest, which can lead to interrupted sleep. Steak also contains high amounts of protein. Protein rich foods are great for raising energy levels but not so great if you are looking to enter into relaxation mode. The high fat content in steak has also been linked to sleep apnoea. If you must eat protein before bed, a better option would be to go with turkey, fish or a handful of nuts.

Ice-cream: even though ice cream makes for the perfect midnight snack, the combination of fat and sugar can interrupt your sleeping patterns and may even lead to nightmares. The fat content in ice cream can also cause your digestive system to continue working into the night, which can make you feel groggy in the morning.

When it comes to avoiding certain foods before bed, it may, in fact be best to not consume any foods at least three hours before bed for the best night’s sleep.

So, if you are searching for ways to get a good night’s sleep, why not take a look at the foods you are eating and see if you can make some positive changes.

Sweet Dreams, Koalas.