Sleep is a necessary part of a healthy routine, yet many people struggle with insomnia. It may surprise you that getting a good night’s sleep is essential for weight loss, too.
Since food is one of the best ways to ensure a good night’s sleep, here are some great foods to eat before bed. And if you’ve been told that eating right before bed is a bad idea, well, it’s not exactly black and white. You can get a better night’s sleep if you give your body the nutrients that aid melatonin production and promote deep sleep – and you won’t gain weight.
Table of Contents
Best Sleep-Promoting Foods to Eat Before Bedtime
These foods and beverages can promote quality sleep.
Almonds are a healthy snack any time, but they also help you sleep. They’re loaded with magnesium, which helps to relax your muscles and balance sleep cycles. If you suffer from restless leg syndrome, chances are good you also suffer from insomnia – and the magnesium found in almonds helps with both! Almonds also contain niacin, which like other B vitamins helps manage stress and lessen anxiety. Any foods that help you relieve stress will help you sleep better, too!
Bananas also contain tryptophan as well as potassium and magnesium, both of which promote the relaxation of your muscles.
Kiwi fruit satisfies your sweet tooth in a very healthy way! It also helps give you a good night’s sleep. This study shows that “kiwifruit contains many medicinally useful compounds, among which antioxidants and serotonin may be beneficial in the treatment of the sleep disorders.”
Like almonds, leafy greens contain calcium and magnesium to relax the muscles. They are also loaded with nutrients that support your body’s natural “rest and digest” functions that occur during sleep. A bedtime soup or bone broth made with turnip greens (which contain some tryptophan) and other leafy veggies will warm you to the core and induce delicious drowsiness.
Peanut butter, almond butter or other nut butter are rich and satisfying, as they contain fat and protein. Be sure to choose nut butter that does not contain added sugar or corn syrup, to prevent a sugar spike just before bed (which will keep you up).
Slow carbs like sweet potatoes are perfect at night because they don’t cause a spike in blood sugar. Sweet potatoes also contain potassium and magnesium which help with muscle relaxation and repair.
Tart Cherry Juice
You can also drink tart cherry juice before bed. Researchers have found that tart cherry juice increases melatonin production, which is essential in getting quality sleep. Tart cherry juice also improves the absorption of tryptophan. It’s important to use tart cherry juice, not sweet cherry juice. This strong-flavored juice usually comes as a syrup: just add a tablespoon to a cup of water about an hour before bedtime (so you don’t have to go to the bathroom right after you’ve settled in for the night).
Tuna is exceptionally high in vitamin B6, which helps the body metabolize tryptophan and produce melatonin and serotonin.
Turkey or chicken
Turkey is loaded with tryptophan – an amino acid precursor to melatonin – and so is chicken! While eating protein in the morning will give you the energy you need for the day, eating protein before bed will help you sleep because it stabilizes blood sugar.
Yogurt is easy on the stomach (and, in fact, promotes gut health for better absorption of nutrients), it’s a deliciously not-too-sweet snack that still takes care of cravings for sweets, and best of all, it contains tryptophan, that very same amino acid found in turkey. Boost the tryptophan effect by adding sliced bananas or a scoop of raw oatmeal – and instead of buying sugary yogurt mixes, buy plain yogurt and add Nature’s best sweetener, honey.
Avoid These Foods at Bedtime
Obviously, stimulants like coffee, caffeinated soda or any sugary drinks should be avoided close to bedtime. But there are a few foods you should avoid too.
Oh no!! The staple of late-night munchie attacks… isn’t good for sleep? Sadly, it’s true. The main culprits are simple carbs in the crust, which cause elevated blood sugar, and acidic tomatoes, which can cause heartburn. Pizza can also be quite greasy, which can be taxing on the digestive system and keep you up at night.
Not that you’re going to munch on a raw onion at bedtime, but if it’s part of a sandwich, you might not think twice. The trouble with raw vegetables is that they can be hard to digest and you’ll have a hard time sleeping while your digestive system is busy with digestion. Also, raw onions can worsen symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn, which make it even harder to get comfortable enough to fall asleep.
Rice and other starches
High-glycemic starches like rice, white bread, juice, and white potatoes – and of course, any kind of dessert – can cause your blood sugar to spike, giving you too much energy at bedtime. They’re also not doing you any favors if you’re looking to lose weight!
If you love spicy food, avoid eating late-night buffalo wings or jalapeno poppers. The capsaicin in spicy foods boosts your metabolism – and it can also trigger an increase in body temperature, which feels like hot flashes, and it can cause heartburn.