Digestion is a terribly complicated process that requires quite a lot of energy, and for some folks, eating before bed can make it significantly more difficult to fall asleep. This is especially true with fatty food, which takes extra time to digest, or food that is very high in sugar or carbohydrates, which will probably spike your insulin and provide an unwanted energy boost. If you're a pre-bedtime snacker, there are some foods with nutritional properties that can help maximize the benefits of your sleep.
For foods that help you sleep better tonight, here are a few favorites to try:
Cherries are one of the very few foods that contain melatonin, which is probably the most widely used sleep supplement on shelves. It comes in pill form and while this concerns some people, melatonin is actually an all-natural antioxidant, and it may protect against cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
2) Dark Leafy Greens
Kale, spinach, collard greens, and Swiss chard are all fantastic sources of the elusive mineral magnesium. Not only can magnesium cut your risk of diabetes and of heart attacks, but it’s also a fantastic sleep aid. Not interested in eating salad so late at night? Some avocado, a banana, a square of dark chocolate, or a handful of nuts or pumpkin seeds are terrific sources of magnesium as well.
3) Kiwi fruit
A surprising number of studies have concluded that kiwi fruit helps people go to sleep more quickly and stay asleep for longer. In fact, a study out of Taiwan’s Taipei Medical School found sleep onset to occur 35 percent more quickly after eating two kiwi fruit an hour before bed. Why? One theory is that kiwi fruit is pretty high in serotonin, which helps to regulate the sleep cycle and improve mood.
An old standard, chamomile tea has been used since ancient times to beat insomnia, and while its effectiveness as a sleep aid hasn’t been widely researched in humans, animal studies have shown promise for chamomile as a natural relaxant. (Valerian tea is another good bet.) Downside: It might not be very filling if you’re craving calories!
Yogurt is very high in calcium, and among other things, this mineral helps to support deep, REM sleep by enabling the brain to convert tryptophan, a common amino acid, into melatonin. Despite popular belief, tryptophan isn’t especially high in turkey and can be found in equal or greater amounts in bacon, tofu, cheese, oat bran, and even chicken. Eat plenty of calcium with your protein, and it’ll increase your chances of restful sleep.
Some people will be kept awake if they eat before sleep no matter what they put on their plate. For those folks, there’s every reason to head to bed on empty. But on the other hand, if you have difficulty sleeping, one (or more) of the foods above just might do the trick. Dig in and rest up. I shall start with chocolate tonight and tell you how that goes.