Do you often find yourself sleepwalking to the kitchen to hunt for a midnight snack? Or do you find yourself getting up early for breakfast just so you can quell the hunger pains that have kept you up all night? If so, chances are you haven’t been eating enough before bedtime – or you’ve been eating the wrong foods. If you want to indulge in the perfect, late night snack, try eating one of these 10 foods that make you sleepy before you hit the sack.
Typically, cereal and milk is eaten after you wake up, not before you go to sleep. But cereal and milk is actually the perfect bedtime snack because it’s an excellent balance of protein and carbohydrates. These two essential nutrients, when combined, will put you to sleep in no time. That’s because protein contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which makes you feel sleepy, and carbohydrates help tryptophan reach the brain more easily. So break out a bowl of bran and chow down. You’ll be fast asleep before you know it.
Although this may also seem like another breakfast option, this actually makes for another great evening snack. Like cereal and milk, peanut butter and toast is the perfect combination of protein and carbohydrates that are present in foods that make you sleepy.
Nuts are a great source of protein and these nuts are also a good source of magnesium, which helps you fall asleep and helps your muscles relax. Almonds can also keep your blood sugar level stable while you’re sleeping. So before you go to bed, snack on a handful of almonds or substitute peanut butter with some almond butter on toast or crackers.
Like almonds, bananas are also a great source of magnesium. They also serve up some tryptophan along with other vital nutrients, so they’re the perfect guilt-free snack to have at night. Make a banana smoothie with soy milk for a sweet bedtime treat.
Researchers have found that cherries can increase the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that naturally makes you feel sleepy. It seems that the more tart the cherry, the more helpful it is in increasing melatonin production. If snacking on a bag of sour cherries seems unappetizing, drink a glass or two of cherry juice instead.
Oatmeal is quite nourishing and filling, which means you won’t wake up in the middle of the night with hunger pains. Oatmeal is also a good source of the sleep-inducing magnesium as well as potassium, calcium and phosphorus. Stay away from the instant oatmeal packets, which are full of sugar. Instead, opt for plain oatmeal with some banana slices and sliced cherries for an extra melatonin booster.
Although caffeine is off-limits before bedtime, there’s nothing wrong with having a cup of decaffeinated tea before bed. Chamomile and green tea are the best choices for an evening drink. In fact, green tea contains theanine, which helps you fall asleep.
Eggs are rich sources of protein, which fills you up and helps you stay asleep through the night. If you’re not a fan of hard-boiled eggs, try making some scrambled eggs or an omelet for dinner.
If you prefer to have a salty snack in the evening, put down the bag of potato chips and grab some edamame, which is a green soybean, instead. Soy products are especially helpful for postmenopausal women, who deal with hot flashes during the night. If you’ve been experiencing this problem, snack on some edamame before bedtime to control those hot flashes.
If you plan on having a late dinner, make a bowl of miso soup. Miso is made from soy and contains many amino acids, including tryptophan. Those amino acids can also increase the production of melatonin. If you haven’t been sleeping well lately, have a bowl of miso soup for dinner to help fight your insomnia.
Many people make the common mistake of drinking a sugary beverage or a glass of wine before going to bed. But both caffeine and alcohol can interfere with your sleep pattern later in the night and can even keep you awake, which is just the opposite of what you’d want.
It’s also important to skip spicy snacks, or snacks that are full of spices like garlic and salt, before bedtime. High-fat snacks should also be avoided later in the evening. All of these types of foods can cause acid reflux or other discomfort that can keep you up at night.
The next time you’re thinking about a late night snack to help you sleep, use one of the healthy suggestions provided in this list.