Healthy eating is part of the recipe for a good night’s sleep. Avoid eating or drinking anything with caffeine. It is a stimulant and can keep you up late into the night by blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increasing adrenaline production. Skip the spicy foods before lying down for sleep as well, especially if you’re prone to heartburn. Last but not least, leave fatty foods for another meal, as they take a long time to digest and can disrupt sleep.
It is recommended to eat your last meal or snack at least 2-3 hours before hitting the hey. By choosing snacks rich in sleep-inducing nutrients like melatonin, protein, tryptophan, and complex carbs, you’re one step closer to sleeping tight through the night. A healthy evening snack is contains both carbs and (only a little bit of) protein. Why? Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that causes sleepiness, and eating carbohydrates along with protein can increase the tryptophan available to the brain. However, if you eat a lot of protein, you digest more slowly, which means that your body will focus on digesting rather than sleep. Adding a carbohydrate to the protein can to tip the balance towards sleep instead of digesting. Interested in going into more detail in healthy evening snacks? Read the following list and improve the quality of your zzz’s!
Let's Go Bananas!
Could there be a quicker and easier snack than a banana? What’s even better about this yellow nutrient bomb is that it can help you get some extra sleep. Bananas are high in potassium and magnesium, which promote sleep. Potassium helps to maintain a regular heart beat and conduct nerve transmissions that promote relaxation and sleep, and magnesium helps hydration, muscle relaxation, energy production and the deactivation of adrenaline. Vitamin B6 found in bananas can reduce stress and help you sleep by promoting the release of the mood-elevating neurotransmitter serotonin. Bananas also provide you carbs which will help make you sleepy as well by making tryptophan (which relaxes the body and helps put you to sleep) more readily available to the brain. To add some flavor and protein to your late-night snack, enjoy your banana with some almond butter.
A (Whole) Grain of Truth
Cereal is one of the sleep-promoting healthy evening snacks, but there’s one little thing you need to remember. For a good night’s sleep, skip the sugary cereals that can keep you awake, and instead, go for the whole-grain kind packed with sleep-inducing complex carbohydrates. Eating complex carbs in the evening before bedtime can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly through the night. Even better, pair your cereal with milk which has its own sleep-promoting qualities.
A Good Egg
Eggs are an excellent source of protein, so prepare a scrambled egg with whole-wheat toast for a quick and healthy late-night snack. This snack makes the process of releasing serotonin more efficient. Serotonin is a chemical messenger believed to produce healthy sleeping patterns as well as boost your mood. The complex carbohydrates from the toast will make tryptophan more readily available to your brain. The protein will help to keep you from getting hungry during the night. Sprinkle some cheese into your scrambled eggs for a calcium boost to sleep even better!
You get to thank the Middle East for this healthy snack. Hummus is an excellent source of tryptophan, and the chickpeas in it are a vitamin B6 bomb! Vitamin B6 is a necessary component in the production of melatonin, which helps control the sleep-wake cycle. Try hummus with raw vegetables like carrots or broccoli to provide complex carbs that also help you get deep sleep and also to keep calories down.
The Power of Yogurt
The calcium found in plain yogurt can help you get a good night’s sleep. You get the relaxing powers of tryptophan from the dairy along with protein. What’s more, is that yogurt can help calm your stomach, so you’re less likely to wake up with heartburn or indigestion, so you’re much more likely to sleep tight through the night. Opt for plain yogurt or the kind that are naturally low in sugar and enjoy it with naturally sweet foods, like berries or fruit.
The Apple of My Eye
Apples are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium. Vitamin C can help decrease blood pressure, improve breathing and lower blood sugar, helping you to relax and breathe properly as you sleep. Apples are also packed with fiber. The quick boost in glucose levels from this naturally sweet fruit reduces orexin, a neurotransmitter that tells the brain to wake you up and eat! A medium-sized apple also contains approximately 15 percent of your daily fiber, which will keep you full as you sleep. The insoluble fiber helps to retain its water in your intestines, preventing bathroom breaks during the night and aids digestion. The soluble fiber, on the other hand, is broken down by your body and can help to lower blood cholesterol levels. This way it can improve blood circulation and sleep quality over time
If you feeling like having a little larger meal, try a sandwich made with the food most famous for its sleep-inducing tryptophan: turkey. Add a calcium-packed piece of cheese and whole-grain bread for the complex carbs and you’ve got yourself a dreamy sandwich!
Oh So Healthy Oatmeal
Oatmeal? Healthy evening snacks? Although many see oatmeal as a breakfast food, it’s also ideal for bedtime. Oats are a natural source of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycles. Plus, complex carbohydrates, like oats, make tryptophan more readily available to the brain. Prepare your oatmeal with milk and throw in some almonds for a triple boost of sleep-inducing foods!
Say (Cottage) Cheese!
Instead of having a bowl of ice cream, why not try enjoying a nutrient packed small bowl of cottage cheese topped with fresh berries, chopped nuts, and cinnamon instead. Cottage cheese is a great source of protein, which helps create the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan. The calcium in it eases you to sleep, and the high protein content will keep you from waking up to a growling stomach in the middle of the night. Protein before bed can also help control reflux – great news for those who frequently have trouble getting good sleep because of heartburn! But remember; don’t have too much of protein so let your body can focus on sleep instead of digesting.
It's The Berries
Vitamin B6 found in both raspberries and strawberries boosts melatonin production. Cherries, on the other hand, are one of the few foods that naturally contain melatonin, which also helps control your body’s internal clock. This sleep-promoting hormone lowers body temperature, helps induce drowsiness, and puts the body into sleep mode. Talk about healthy evening snacks! A recent study found that adults who drank two daily glasses of tart cherry juice slept 40 minutes longer on average and had up to a 6% increase in sleep efficiency. Enjoy a small bowl of fresh cherries or a glass of tart cherry juice low in sugar before bed to get some super sweet dreams.
Lavender is used in many products such as candles, oils, and lotions as a sleep promoter. Studies have shown that lavender has calming properties that allow many to fall asleep more easily. To help you feel relaxed and calm, try having a glass of decaffeinated lavender tea. You can also try making lavender syrup and stirring it in a glass of hot or iced decaf tea. If you’d like to take relaxation to another level, take a hot bath with lavender oil before bed to relax your body and mind.
Milk - The Ultimate Sleep Drink
Dairy foods are rich in tryptophan and calcium, two nutrients that are linked to restful sleep. Recent research suggests that calcium deficiency results in a lack of deep (REM) sleep, so make sure you’re filling up each day with an adequate amount. Also, the tryptophan in milk, when coupled with carbohydrates (i.e. warm milk and honey), will help you to unwind before bed. So drink up for a restful evening. Almond milk is an excellent source of calcium, which helps the brain make melatonin.
Nuts For You!
If you want a quick and healthy evening snack that doesn’t require any prep work, go for almonds. Just a handful of these and you’ll be dozing off in no time. They’re a rich source of the sleep-supporting amino acid tryptophan, as well as the nutrient magnesium, a natural muscle relaxant. Plus, the protein in almonds will keep you full all night. Walnuts are another good choice. Just like cherry juice, they’ll provide you melatonin. Note that nuts are high in calories, so stick to a one-ounce / 30-grams serving that contains about 185 calories.
Movie Night Tonight?
Skip the sugar and popcorn is a pretty healthy late-night movie snack. Air-popped popcorn contains only 30 calories a cup, and the carbohydrates in popcorn help bring the amino acid tryptophan into your brain. Choose the non-fat air-popped, salted variety over sweet to keep it healthy, and dust your popcorn with cinnamon or paprika; both have been shown to give your metabolism a boost. It’s hard to believe a snack food so tasty can actually be good for you!
I hope these tips will help you sleep better!