Man sleeping in bed with striped sheets

You may have heard you should try to avoid eating right before bed; however, according to experts today, a bedtime snack may actually be a good thing. While this is true, what you eat definitely matters. In fact, there are some foods that will help your sleep while others may hinder it, which means it’s up to you to know what to eat and what to avoid to ensure better sleep.

Foods That Hinder a Good Night’s Rest

If you are like most people, you may know that eating something hot and spicy, fried foods, or a big steak dinner right before bed may hinder your ability to get good sleep. However, there are a few other foods that may impact your ability to get a good night’s rest, too. While you can definitely use Dr Gundry killer fruit list to know what fruits to avoid before bed, there are a few other foods to keep off your midnight snack radar, too.

Chocolate

While chocolate is delicious, it usually contains caffeine, which can result in increased arousal and it will work to reduce the ability you have to fall asleep and sustain the deeper sleep stages. Also, chocolate – especially if you like dark chocolate – contains very small amounts of theobromine, which is a bitter alkaloid that is found in the cacao plant. This substance can increase your heart rate and result in sleeplessness.

If you are a chocoholic and need it before bed, be sure to consider white chocolate. This type contains very little (often no caffeine) or theobromine. As a result, it’s a better option before bed.

Dried Fruit

The low-water and high-fiber content of dried fruit can result in an array of digestive problems. This includes things like cramping or gas at night. The cause of this is sorbitol. It is a sweetener that’s found in various dried fruits, which includes prunes and raisins. If you eat this right before bed, it can cause flatulence and bloating, especially if you eat a lot of them.

Green Tea or Matcha

Not only does green tea contain caffeine, but it also contains theophylline and theobromine. Both of these substances can result in nervousness, anxiety, and increased heart rate. Also, matcha, which is a type of green tea, contains caffeine, but it doesn’t cause the jitters like other versions. However, because the benefits offered by green tea are so numerous, be sure to drink plenty during the day, just stop by 4 PM so it doesn’t interfere with your sleep.

Chips

The high-fat content in chips should be a clear indication you need to steer clear, especially right before you go to bed. Just a single serving, which is about 18 chips, contains as much as two grams of fat. Since it takes such a large amount of work for your body to digest the fats, eating chips before you go to bed is going to result in an uncomfortable night of tossing and turning. Also, some research has shown that eating chips before bed can actually cause nightmares.

Oranges

Because they have such a high acidic content, oranges may cause or exacerbate heartburn. This is especially problematic if they are eaten on an empty stomach. Also, the scent of oranges is considered energizing and may result in you staying alert rather than being relaxing. What’s even worse is that citrus is considered a natural diuretic, which can cause several sleep-interrupting tips to the toilet throughout the night.

Foods That Help You Get a Better Night’s Rest

On the other hand, there are an array of foods and beverages that will help you get sounder sleep. The foods to include as part of your midnight snack are listed here. Make sure you keep them on hand to enhance and improve your sleep.

Nuts

If you want a fast, pre-bedtime snack, a great option is nuts. This is mainly because they contain melatonin, which is the hormone that’s responsible for regulating your sleep. In addition to being heart-healthy, nuts are also sleep-healthy. This means you can grab a handful or two and actually get a much better night’s rest.

Cottage Cheese

This food is full of lean protein, and it contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid that’s known for increasing serotonin levels. You can make this bedtime snack even better if you put a few raspberries on top because they are also rich in melatonin. This will provide double the sleep benefits.

Fruits

Along with raspberries, there are some fruits that also contain melatonin. This includes fruits like pineapples, bananas, and tart cherries. The antioxidants that are in other fruits, such as plums, raisins, prune, and berries can help give you more energy after a restless night. They are also beneficial when it comes to counteracting the oxidative stress resulting from certain sleep disorders.

Whole Grains

Something that may be a bit surprising is that whole-wheat crackers, oatmeal, and popcorn with some type of nut butter are better options before bed than foods full of complex carbohydrates such as pasta, white bread, and other baked, sugary items. These will only reduce your levels of serotonin.

Herbal Teas and Warm Milk

There’s no question that the soothing benefits offered by warm beverages right before bed can help you sleep better. The standard of warm milk to help with sleep is still relevant today. In fact, there are some researchers that have conducted studies proving the link between the melatonin and tryptophan in milk and its ability to improve sleep. However, the psychological aspects related to drinking milk when it is time for bed during childhood should not be underestimated, either. Also, there are some caffeine-free herbal teas, such as passionflower, valerian, or chamomile that are relaxing. This is especially true if you include them as part of your bedtime routine each night.

Eating Your Way to Better Sleep

As you can see, there’s an array of foods that can be beneficial for your sleep, with others that can actually keep you from enjoying a restful night. It’s a good idea to keep the food items here in mind to know what to eat and what to avoid. In the long run, making sure that your midnight snack only includes sleep-inducing foods will ensure you aren’t tossing and turning all night or that you wake up tired.

For some, this is going to require a completely new eating pattern; however, for others, only small changes will be necessary. Have a plan to ensure you get the benefits of the sleep benefiting foods and that you get the quality sleep you need to face the day.

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About The Author

Mikkie Mills's picture

Mikkie Mills is a freelance writer who's passionate about health, fitness, organic cooking and eating, and yoga. When not writing she loves traveling, hiking, and cooking. Find more from Mikkie on Google+.

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