The Best & Worst Foods Before Bed
Having difficulty sleeping at night? We all go through phases of struggling to sleep, but have you ever thought it might be due to the food you’re eating? If you find yourself constantly having the bedtime from hell for no reason, it could be down to your diet. We’ve done some investigating and come up with some of the best and worst foods to eat before you indulge in some shut eye.
Before we start with the good stuff, lets first focus on the bad and the ugly.
What NOT to eat
Whether it’s a burger or a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, fast food is one of the worst culprits for disturbing your sleep. This type of food is high in fat, and fat takes a long time to digest which won’t keep your body rested during digestion. Fast food also stimulates acid production in the stomach, causing heartburn and fragmented sleep.
An obvious one, but still good to know the facts! The main issue here is caffeine, a stimulant which can prevent your body from shutting down. This lowers your ability to develop and prolong deeper stages of sleep, with effects lasting anything between 8-14 hours. But remember, caffeine isn’t just found in coffee but also chocolate, soft drinks and tea so be weary!
Your body naturally decreases temperature when preparing for sleep, but spicy foods actually increase body temperature. They also give you indigestion which would not only leave you in discomfort, but also impair your sleep.
A larger meal means more for your body to digest at night, and the more hours it takes the less you spend sleeping. It’s also more difficult to digest food laying down, rather than sitting up which can not only leave you uncomfortable but may cause weight gain.
Contrary to belief, alcohol is not very beneficial when trying to sleep. Research has shown that you’re more likely to get a poorer quality of sleep when drinking alcohol, and this can lead to irritability. However, a little nightcap before bed shouldn’t cause much harm, but alcohol should ideally be consumed at least 4-6 hours before bed.
What you SHOULD eat
Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid and natural sleep aid. Tryptophan has a sedative effect and can improve sleep patterns. Skimmed milk is recommended as whole milk takes longer for the body to digest.
Predominantly cherries, bananas and kiwis are the ideal sleep-enhancing fruits. Cherries contain melatonin, a naturally-produced hormone that signals the body when it’s time to sleep. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium and magnesium, which help with muscle relaxation. Studies have also shown that magnesium is beneficial for tackling insomnia. Kiwis, also known as the “superfood” have been shown to help people go to sleep quicker. A Taiwanese study’s results showed that kiwis can make you fall asleep up to 34% more quickly.
Some of the best herbal teas for sleep include chamomile, Valerian, catnip and lavender. Valerian for example includes sedative properties as the root of the plant has been found to speed up sleep and improve the quality of sleep. There’s also no caffeine in herbal teas which is an added bonus for all things sleep related.
This ultra tasty root vegetable not only contains muscle-relaxant potassium, but also complex carbohydrates. These complex carbs are easy on the digestive system by slowly digesting and releasing sleep-promoting, body repairing energy at night time.
This protein-rich meat is high in tryptophan which can significantly increase long, deep hours of sleep. Why not pair it with a carbohydrate-rich food such as brown rice or jasmine rice to cut down the time it takes for you to fall asleep. But remember, small portions work best!