Night time is a very tempting time to eat. We often get little cravings and feel like having a little snack or a small meal between dinner and brushing out teeth. In essence, there is nothing wrong with eating a small something before going to bed, but in so doing, it pays to know what we should and what we shouldn't eat to get a good night's sleep.
Foods that help you sleep
Cherries are some of the only foods naturally containing the chemical melatonin, which is responsible for configuring our 'internal clock'. A study has found that adults suffering from insomnia and drank cherry juice before bed reported a marked improvement in the quality and length of their sleep time.
Although rice has a high glycemic value, the body slowly digests it, slowly releasing glucose into the bloodstream. This prevents a sugar spike that can destroy your sleep. Researchers have found that eating rice a few hours before going to bed lowered the amount of time it takes to fall asleep by half.
As a rule, carbs are a pretty good food option before going to sleep, but a box of cookies before bed isn't recommended. Instead, try a bowl of cereal with complex carbohydrates. If you make a habit of eating cereal with milk, you're twice the winner, because milk is also considered a food that promotes good sleep. Quinoa, buckwheat and barley are also recommended carbs to eat before going to bed.
Bananas are rich in magnesium and potassium, minerals known to be muscle relaxants. They are also a good source of carbs, which, as we've mentioned, promote a better quality of sleep. If you choose to eat a banana you also earn a few more healthy advantages, such as helping your heart and blood vessels, as well as your cognitive functioning.
Turkey meat contains an essential amino acid called tryptophan, which is one of the most powerful materials your body uses to get you to sleep. That's why you always feel like napping after eating a good amount of turkey.
Like the banana, the sweet potato also contains carbs combined with potassium that relaxes your muscles. As a food belonging to the orange family, sweet potatoes also contains carotenoids and powerful antioxidants that will promote your general health.
Valerian Root Tea
The root of the valerian plant has been proven by several studies to be a high-quality sleep promoter, shortening the length of time it takes to fall asleep. You can drink the mixture with chamomile, a plant known to relax the body as well.
Important: Only drink chamomile or valerian root tea without caffeine.
Foods you should avoid before sleep
The large amount of fat found in hamburgers is a known 'sleep killer'. The fat encourages the stomach to pump more acid out, which can cause heartburn. Of course, these heartburns may really get in the way of falling asleep, not to mention the stomach needs to work extra hours to digest this heavy meal, which will also harm the quality of your sleep.
Although it may put us to sleep faster, all types of alcohol go through a fast metabolic process in our digestive system, causing us to wake up several times during the night, even if we don't remember it the next day. A study has found that women who drank alcohol before going to sleep were up 15 minutes more (in little mini-breaks) in the middle of the night, as well as sleeping 20 minutes less than average. That may not sound like a lot, but the study found that the quality of the sleep is damaged. In addition, alcohol may cause snoring, causing disruptions in your sleep as well as your spouse's.
I bet you knew this one already. Coffee is meant to wake us up in the morning. It doesn't actually make us more alert, it works as an antagonist to sleep hormones, and so is, of course, one of the worst things you can put in your body in the hours before you go to bed. Of course, people have a radically different reaction to caffeine, and so the length of time you should keep between drinking coffee and going to sleep may change from person to person.
Other than the vast amounts of sugar, causing your blood sugar levels to spike, chocolate also contains caffeine and is considered a food that keeps you awake. Chocolate also contains a substance called theobromine, which can elevate the heart rate and interfere with our sleep.
Spice is not nice
Any spicy food will detract from the quality of our sleep. A recent Australian study found that men who consumed tabasco sauce or mustard before sleep had trouble falling asleep as well as experiencing a low quality of sleep. Hot food can also cause heartburn, which, as we've explained, is terrible for a good night's sleep.