Insights & Actions for Healthy Living

Eating before I go to bed is bad, I have heard. Sometimes I feel hungry before bed, are there good snacks that will help me sleep?

Thank you for your question. The importance of a good night’s sleep for our health has taken center stage among researchers and health professionals lately. We can track our sleep patterns using fitness wearable devices and smartphone apps and often find ourselves sleep deprived. Not getting a good night’s sleep can affect our performance, energy levels and overall health.

There are many strategies you can adopt in order to get a good night’s sleep and what you eat and drink can be part of that. We have been recommending limiting caffeine containing beverages and foods within six hours of sleep as one way to help you fall sleep. Another strategy to improve sleep is to limit the beverages you drink after 8 pm to avoid waking with a full bladder and a necessary bathroom trip.

You should also use caution to refrain from overeating close to sleep time which could lead to reflux and an uncomfortable state not conducive to sleep. Spicy foods and high fat meals can also lead to heartburn when all you want is to sleep. Snacking because you are hungry is different than snacking from boredom. If you feel that you require a snack before bed to make it through the night, then there are a few choices you might want to consider.

It has been suggested that complex carbohydrate foods can help improve sleep due to their tryptophan content working to create melatonin compared to more simple carbohydrate sugar containing foods which spike blood sugar. Lean proteins also contain tryptophan while higher fat proteins act to reduce our serotonin levels therefore leaner proteins are more sleep loving.

Nutritious and sleep inducing snacks would include apple wedges with peanut butter, Greek yogurt, or half a turkey sandwich with a glass of low fat milk.

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