If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night with hunger pains, it’s a good idea to fight the urge. Late-night snacking is generally a bad idea for your health because eating around the clock disrupts how your body utilises calories. Some foods can actually help with sleep issues, as well as foods that should be avoided.
What to Eat Before Bedtime
Making healthy eating choices before you hit the sack will go a long way with keeping you out of the kitchen in the middle of the night. Choose filling foods like lean proteins or those high in whole grains, and try to eat at least two hours before bedtime to give your body time to digest. If you have to eat right before bed, your midnight snack guide should be a small, healthy choice. Filling up on greasy or fatty foods will put your digestive system into overdrive and could cause heartburn.
Look for Foods High in Melatonin
Some foods are natural sleep-inducers. For example, fish is high in Vitamin B6, which helps produce melatonin. Other foods that can boost melatonin levels are bananas, oranges, cherries, and oats. Melatonin is a hormone your brain makes to help control if you should be asleep or awake. You make melatonin naturally to help manage your sleep cycles, but sometimes your body needs a little help. Try a small glass of cherry juice before bed.
Eat a Handful of Nuts
Nuts are a healthy snack any time of day, but some varieties can also promote a good night’s sleep. Almonds are high in magnesium and tryptophan. Magnesium is important to sleep because it plays a role in relaxation and, more importantly, minimising adrenaline production. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps your brain create serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps you sleep. Walnuts also contain tryptophan and are another natural source of melatonin. Another option is Brazil nuts, which contain high levels of selenium. Selenium can help with thyroid imbalances that could be affecting your sleep.
Drink your Milk
Your mother may have given you a glass of warm milk before bedtime when you were small. It turns out mom may have been on to something. Some dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, also contain tryptophan. Milk also contains alpha-lactalbumin, a protein that helps with relaxation. Dairy products, in general, are high in protein, which can assist in turning down hunger for the night.
What to Avoid
Although it may be relaxing, alcohol actually has a disruptive effect on sleep. The more you drink, the harder it is to have a restful night. You may fall asleep just fine, but effects of alcohol may cause a disruption later in your sleep cycle. Another no-no close to bedtime is caffeine. The obvious caffeine booster is coffee. Be on the lookout for hidden caffeine in foods and drinks such as chocolate, tea, and soft drinks. It is best to cut out all caffeine consumption at least four to six hours before bedtime.