by Jesse Cannone
Healthy Back Institute Co-Founder
If you like a little snack to “tide you over” while you sleep, you’re in luck.
Some foods are actually quite healthy, even acting as stealthy muscle builders or sleep promoters, when eaten right before bed.
Others, as you’re probably aware, are not such a good choice and may interfere with your sleep or make you gain weight …
How can you differentiate between a good bedtime snack and a bad one?
There’s no hard and fast “rule,” but here we’ve compiled a cheat sheet for you to use when it’s late and you’re ready to raid the fridge …
The 5 Worst Foods to Eat Before Bed
5. Ice Cream, Cookies, Cake … Anything With Lots of Sugar (Including Breakfast Cereal)
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, resist the urge to splurge right before bed. The extra sugar will cause a spike in your blood sugar, making your energy levels jump and then plummet.[i] This wacky energy rollercoaster is the last thing you need to help you fall asleep.
4. Spicy Foods
Bedtime is not the time to break out your favorite hot sauce … spicy foods can interfere with your sleep. One reason for this is indigestion, but there’s more to it than that. They may also raise your body temperature, which can lead to poor sleep quality. Research shows, too, that when men ate Tabasco sauce and mustard right before bed, they spent more time awake during the night and took longer to fall asleep.[ii]
A big juicy steak right before bed might sound tempting, but red meat takes a long time to digest. This means that when you should be sleeping, your body will have to be hard at work digesting this fatty, protein-laden meal. Not exactly a recipe for restful slumber …
2. Dark Chocolate
Ordinarily, dark chocolate is one of the best desserts to try, as it’s got the highest level of antioxidants of all types of chocolate. However, it’s also got the most caffeine, and if you eat it right before bed, well, you might as well just drink a cup of strong coffee along with it.
1. Citrus Fruits
Because citrus fruits are so acidic, they’re notorious for causing indigestion and heartburn — especially if you eat them and then go and lie down. Save your grapefruits and oranges for earlier in the day, and if you want fruit before bed, opt for cherries or a banana (see below).
The 3 Best Foods to Eat Before Bed
Bananas are an often-overlooked but excellent source of tryptophan, an amino acid your body converts into serotonin — which boosts your mood and promotes restful sleep. Bananas also contain magnesium and potassium, which help your muscles relax, and even have a bit of melatonin, a hormone your body produces when it’s time to go to sleep.
2. Tart Cherry Juice
Cherries are another natural source of the “sleep hormone” melatonin, and research shows that levels are elevated in people who drink tart cherry juice regularly. Plus, one study found that drinking tart cherry juice improved sleep quality, increased total sleep time by about 25 minutes and boost “sleep efficiency,” a measure of sleep quality, by up to 6%.[iii]
1. Almond Butter
Spread a tablespoon or two of almond butter on apple or banana slices, or even eat it straight from the jar. Almonds are a good source of sleep-promoting, muscle-relaxing magnesium, and they contain just enough protein to help keep your blood sugar levels steady while you sleep (without weighing you down like heavier protein sources).
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