Eating late should generally be avoided, food before bedtime can affect your sleep as well as your waistline. However when it can’t be avoided, or when you’re just craving some midnight munchies, what are the best options for helping you to drift off?
Melatonin is the chemical that helps regulate your body’s internal clock, so try eating melatonin-rich foods such as cherries before bed if you’re struggling to sleep, or if you’re suffering from jet lag.
Some studies have suggested that tart cherry juice can even make a small difference to those suffering chronic insomnia.
We all know milk is high in calcium, you may not know however that calcium is known as a sleep booster, so make sure you’re getting plenty of dairy into your diet. Milk also contains an amino acid called tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin. Some suggest that these two chemicals can make it easier to get to sleep. Warm milk before bed: not just an old wives tale after all!
Carbs help release insulin, which clears the amino acids that are competing with sleep – inducing tryptophan. If you’re craving carbs, then make sure you go for the complex variety. Bananas are a particularly good source due to the additional ingredients magnesium and potassium, which are both natural muscle relaxants. Sweet potatoes, lima beans and papaya are also good choices before bed.
Wash everything down with a cuppa, but not just any-old brew will do; before bed you need a caffeine-free option. Try a cup of valerian, orange blossom or chamomile tea, which some say help you to drift off.
What to avoid
It may sound obvious, but keep clear of coffee. Some people won’t feel the effects of caffeine for up to half a day later. Caffeine can also lurk where you might not expect it, in cold remedies for instance.
Meals overly rich in protein, nicotine, fatty foods and certain B vitamins are also known to make it difficult for you to nod off.