It’s nearly bedtime, but you want…a little something. Should you give in to the feeling and head to the kitchen for a snack? Or will it wreck your chances of a good night’s sleep? Conventional wisdom says that you should stop eating by early evening, and definitely not snack right before bed. But that advice from dieticians and fitness experts is usually given in reference to losing weight: The theory goes that your body’s metabolism slows down at night, meaning it won’t burn off after-dinner snacks as well as it would if you ate them earlier. On the other hand, people who have trouble sleeping can actually benefit from eating a snack an hour or so before they go to bed. So depending on your lifestyle goals—losing weight or getting a good night’s sleep—there is more than one answer to the question, is it ok to eat before going to bed?
THE CASE FOR WHY YOU SHOULDN’T EAT RIGHT BEFORE BED
Scientists still can’t concretely agree whether your metabolism actually slows during sleep, leading your body to store any late-night calories as fat, rather than processing them efficiently. While some experts stand by this account, others say that metabolism stays consistent throughout the night, allowing your body to continue burning calories at its normal rate. Either way, this is a concern only if you are worried about weight gain.
Of course, the process of digestion itself can interfere with your sleep. If you eat too much food, or heavy fried foods that are hard to digest, you could end up with acid reflux and other problems that will make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you’d prefer not to eat before bed but having trouble sleeping, consider taking a supplement formulated with natural ingredients to help you sleep better. Try RECHARGE HEALTH blissful sleep, which contains vitamin B-6, magnesium, l-theanine, valerian root extract, and other natural herbs that are known to help promote a good night’s rest without leaving you feeling foggy the next day.
THE CASE FOR WHY IT’S OK TO EAT BEFORE BED
Some experts believe that eating a small, healthy snack before bed can be good for you, especially if you have trouble sleeping. The reason is simple: It can be difficult to fall asleep if your stomach is growling with hunger. A snack before bed can make you feel comfortably full and ready to sleep.
Eating the right foods before bed also means that you will be able to maintain a stable blood sugar level throughout the night. This is key, since spikes and falls in blood sugar are one of the things that can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.
There’s also a psychological benefit to eating before bed. Eating a delicious snack or a hot soothing drink like herbal tea or warm milk can help you relax and get you in the right mindset for sleep.
WHAT YOU SHOULD EAT BEFORE BED
The best nighttime snacks to have before bed are a combination of protein, fat, and complex carbs. Good bedtime snacks ideas include:
- Yogurt with granola (make sure they’re lower in sugar)
- Berries and ricotta cheese
- An apple or piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter
- String cheese and whole grain crackers
- Jasmine rice, cinnamon, and a splash of coconut milk
Surprised to see rice on the list? Long grain jasmine rice has a very low glycemic index, which means that your body burns it slowly for fuel, without any blood sugar spikes. It’s a complex carbohydrate that fuels your body. Give it the dessert treatment as described above, or enjoy it with a few bites of grilled chicken or roasted veggies for a savory take.
WHAT NOT TO EAT BEFORE BED
While a light healthy snack may help you sleep at night, a heavy snack could wreck your chances of getting a restful sleep. Caffeine and sugar are both a hard no—and while there is some evidence that chocolate, which contains both, is actually beneficial for sleep, if you’re at all concerned, skip that too.
Sugar—including white sugar, brown sugar, agave, and maple syrup—can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels, leading to spikes that can keep you awake or wake you up in the middle of the night. So if you tend to go for a bowl of cereal before bed, choose one that has a sugar content of 8 grams or less.
Very high amounts of protein can also contribute to sleeping problems, as it gives your body extra energy (something you don’t want when you’re all tucked in). Some protein in your snack is healthy, but avoid high protein bars or protein shakes before bed.
IS MILK BEFORE BED GOOD FOR SLEEP?
You’ve probably been told to try drinking a mug of warm milk before bed in order to fall asleep when you have insomnia. Here’s the science behind that age-old advice: Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that has a slight sleep-inducing impact (you might know it from its ability to put you to sleep after the Thanksgiving meal—it’s also found in turkey). For some people a mug of warm milk works wonders, whether because of the tryptophan or the warmth or just the power of that traditional belief. However, you might also want to try Golden Milk, a soothing beverage that’s packed with many nutritious ingredients—not to mention it has an Instagram-friendly golden hue.
Golden Milk is an Ayurvedic spice-infused beverage that originated in India, though today different versions of Golden Milk are used as tonics and anti-inflammatory treatments around the world. Golden Milk can be made with cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or even with vegan non-dairy milks like soy, almond, or coconut milk. You can buy pre-made Golden Milk spices or make your own. The basic ingredients in Golden Milk are milk, turmeric, peppercorns, ginger, and whatever other spices you want to add (cinnamon can be a tasty add-in). Turmeric gives Golden Milk its color and is a large part of why the drink is so powerful. It is a natural anti-inflammatory, often used to help manage the symptoms of autoimmune diseases and help digestion. Golden Milk is wonderfully soothing; the turmeric may help promote better digestion and may soothe any aches you’re having, which can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.