It’s midnight, and the only illumination in the kitchen radiates from the fridge as you stare in, wondering what to grab.
We’ve all been at the point where we’re simultaneously hungry and tired, and it feels like there’s no way you’ll be able to sleep unless you have a snack.
A major trend in the diet world has been to stop eating after a specific time every night to promote weight loss. But does this help your sleep patterns?
It depends on what your late-night snack consists of. In truth, if your body is signaling that it’s hungry, you should probably give it food. But what you give your body before bed can impact the quality of your beauty sleep.
Why Should I Worry About Eating Before Sleeping?
In the last two hours before you catch some Z’s, it’s essential to be conscious of your eating because poor sleep contributes to bruxism and waking up with a sore jaw. Bruxism is the technical term for teeth grinding, and although it can happen when you’re awake, it happens a lot more when you’re sleeping.
Poor sleep can also contribute to anxiety and other mental health conditions, so the more you can do to get a good night’s sleep, the better you’ll feel in the morning.
Getting late-night hunger cravings isn’t something to worry about, but it’s a good idea to pick foods that won’t interrupt your sleep patterns.
The 5 Worst Foods to Eat Before Bed
Let’s start with the bad news.
Disclaimer: The following list is not meant as a suggestion of foods to cut out of your diet completely, but rather as an outline of the kinds of foods you shouldn’t have within two hours of sleep.
- Citrus Fruits
While oranges and grapefruits are a great source of vitamin C in the morning, they shouldn’t be the thing you reach for before bedtime. The acidity in citrus fruits makes it harder for your digestive system to process them. This can lead to indigestion that keeps you from sleeping well. Save your lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits for when the sun is in the sky.
2. Spicy Foods
We’re not saying to only eat bland food, but if you’re looking for a post-dinner nosh, try to limit the heat level. We know you can handle the heat, but your tummy just might disagree. Heartburn and indigestion can leave you feeling uncomfortable and restless, so keep the hot sauce and jalapenos on the shelf at night.
This one is a bit harder to accept because who doesn’t love a bit of chocolate after dinner? It’s an excellent choice for dessert, but it contains caffeine that can keep you up later. So, if you’ve been looking for an excuse to have dessert before dinner, this is it.
But before you scroll on to number four, remember that this is a suggestion, you’re an adult, and you can eat what you want when you want. Just maybe try to have your chocolate at least two hours before you go to sleep.
4. Fried Foods
When you go out for a snack late at night, there may be a limited amount of open places. Keeping snacks stocked in your pantry can help you stay away from fast food places and fried food that causes indigestion.
Okay, technically, this is something you drink unless you’re doing Jell-O shots. While you may think that your late-night drink is putting you right to sleep, it can actually lead to restless sleep and a whole lot of teeth grinding.
Like we said before, you’re a grown-up. If you’re legally allowed to drink, you’re probably going to drink at night. Try your best to limit the number of nights you spend drinking late to have a better sleep.
The 5 Best Foods to Eat Before Bed
Alright, that’s enough of the naughty list—let’s see the nice list.
The foods you choose to eat before bed should contain the nutrients tryptophan and magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral you should already have plenty of in your diet, and if you don’t, you may want to consider diet supplements to make sure you’re getting the necessary amount. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps regulate your mood and sleep habits.
Tryptophan and magnesium both help regulate your natural melatonin levels. (Melatonin is the hormone that controls your sleep cycle.)
So let’s look at the best options for late-night snacking.
The small summer fruit is a natural source of melatonin, and studies have shown that cherries can help you get better sleep for a longer time.
Bananas are an incredibly nutritious fruit, so it’s no surprise that they made this list. Bananas contain magnesium that helps produce melatonin and makes you feel full.
Because of their high healthy fat content, walnuts are also a source of natural melatonin. Grabbing a handful of walnuts before bed can help you get a good night of restful sleep.
We’ve all wanted to take a nap after Thanksgiving dinner, and the culprit is the tryptophan in turkey. But you don’t have to wait until November to enjoy turkey because turkey has been proven to be one of the best foods to eat before bed.
Yep, we’re closing this list out with a drink too. There’s a reason a glass of milk before bed is popular for kids, and it works for adults too. Dairy milk has high levels of calcium and tryptophan, helping you sleep better. But if you need to drink non-dairy alternatives, then look for dairy-free milk that’s high in calcium.
Choosing the right foods before bed can help with your overall sleep health, but the other piece of the puzzle is your oral health. If you have bruxism or TMJ/TMD, a nightguard will help you get more restful sleep than your food choices will.
For a custom mouthguard that won’t break the bank, get Cheeky.