If you find yourself hungry at night but find those late night snacking sessions lead you to a restless nights sleep, you may need to consider what foods you are eating before bedtime.
Nutritionist Linda Foster says: “It makes perfect sense that our diet can affect our sleep quality”.
A low calorie snack, around 200 calories, will mean you won’t be in bed listening to your stomach grumbling, whilst ensuring ensure your body isn’t up all night digesting.
As your body’s digestion reduces by 50% when you sleep it is important to try and avoid eating spicy, high salt or high fat foods before bed. These foods can cause uncomfortable indigestion and heartburn which will most likely disturb your sleep.
Instead opt for a snack rich in sleep-inducing nutrients like tryptophan, melatonin, protein and complex carbohydrates which will aid a better night’s sleep, maintain steady blood sugar levels and promote weight loss.
We’ve given you a run-down of our favourite healthy snacks before bed time below:
Turkey is loaded with sleep inducing tryptophan – an essential amino acid the brain uses to produce serotonin which regulates sleep. The body can’t make it itself, so foods high in tryptophan such as turkey must supply the body with tryptophan. A few slices of turkey will only be around 100 calories and will provide you with high quality protein to keep you full.
Skip the sugar-packed icecream and instead opt for a bowl of cottage cheese topped with fresh blueberries. The slow digesting protein found in cottage cheese will keep you from getting hungry in the middle of the night while the calcium eases you to sleep.
Whole wheat cereals, such as bran flakes or cornflakes are a good option for bedtime snacks. They are easy to digest and provide 200 calories or even less per bowl. You can add a little skimmed milk for protein and sleep inducing tryptophan.
Cherries 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 sour cherries seems unappetising, you could opt for a glass or two of cherry juice instead.
70% Organic Dark Chocolate
If you really need to satisfy your late night sweet tooth then opt for 5 squares of 70% organic dark chocolate. This will provide a dose of antioxidants which can help lower your blood pressure and improve your blood vessel function.
Non-fat Greek Yoghurt
For about 100 to 150 calories, the protein from a portion of non-fat greek yoghurt will help keep you full, plus you’ll get the relaxing powers of tryptophan from the dairy. Yoghurt can also help calm your stomach, so you’re less likely to wake up with heartburn or indigestion and instead can score a good night’s rest.
Bananas are packed with two powerhouse nutrients; potassium and magnesium. In addition to many other health benefits, these nutrients help relax your muscles, resulting in a restful night. For around 100 calories bananas are a great night time snack as they release energy slowly so blood sugar levels are kept steady to help aid an undisturbed sleep.
Certain nuts such as almonds, walnuts and Brazil nuts are a great source of tryptophan. Almonds are especially rich in the minerals needed for good quality sleep. Lisa Artis of The Sleep Council describes almonds as a winner because they change the body from being alert and let it go into rest mode.
At only 30 calories a cup, air-popped popcorn is an ideal late night snack. The carbs in popcorn stimulate the release of insulin, which has proven to control your circadian clock.