I confess that I use to subscribe to a belief that has been debunked recently. I would advise my clients to do the same. I believed that one should shut down the kitchen & not eat or drink calories 2 to 3 hours before going to bed. We all know that sleep is one of the cornerstones of a healthy existence. If your sleep suffers, your other healthy life linchpins (nutrition, stress management & fitness) might suffer too. I didn't see any point in eating or drinking right before going to bed because how many calories do you need to sleep? Also I thought that eating and or drinking before bed would promote weight gain.
If your sleep suffers, your other healthy life linchpins (nutrition, stress management & fitness) might suffer too.
It's not important when you consume your calories. Let's say you consume an average number of calories: 2000 to 2500 calories. You could save around 250 calories for your bedtime snack. I'm not giving anyone the green light to eat and or drink like it's his or her last meal on Earth. Incidentally my last meal on Earth would be a grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough bread. If they didn't have grilled cheese, I would gladly indulge in french toast. Between pie & cake it would be a toss up for my dessert. On the other hand if your car is full of gas when you get home, you can't park it in your garage & refill it with gas immediately. That sounds like something Dr. Phil would say, but it's true.
If your car is full of gas when you get home, you can't park it in your garage & refill it with gas immediately.
What should I avoid eating or drinking before bed?
1. Avoid caffeinated drinks such as regular coffee & tea. Be careful with decaffeinated drinks. The FDA requires that drinks labeled decaffeinated be 97% decaffeinated. The other 3% can be a significant amount of caffeine. Hot chocolate (any chocolate for that matter) has caffeine too. Most but not all root beer is decaffeinated.
2. Protein bars often contain a lot of caffeine. Always read your food labels.
3. Check your ice cream, yogurt & other dairy products. You might be getting a little caffeinated surprise.
4. Alcohol might help you get to sleep, but it makes it harder for you to get into a deep sleep.
5. Some fancy bottled waters contain caffeine. Believe or not bottled water consumption passed soda consumption for the first time in 2017. The average American consumes 39.3 gallons of bottled water each year compared to 38.5 gallons of soda each year.
6. Avoid fatty & spicy foods. Fatty foods take a lot of time to digest & can disrupt your sleep. You also run the risk of heartburn because these foods cause your sphincter to relax. Stomach acid builds up in your esophagus. You don't sleep as well.
What should I eat or drink before sleeping?
We sleep to rest, repair & rejuvenate. This process requires stability. For example we can't eat a lot of sugar, allow our insulin
to spike & expect to sleep. We need to keep our food hormones, leptin & ghrelin, balanced as well.
Serotonin & melatonin play a critical role in sleep. Serotonin affects your mood as well as your sleep. Most of your serotonin lives in your GI tract. Melatonin regulates your "clock" telling you when to sleep & when to wake. Serotonin produces melatonin.
Your body doesn't produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter or chemical, without tryptophan. Tryptophan, an amino acid, works as a natural sedative or calming agent. You want to eat foods that have a lot of tryptophan. You should also add a complex carbohydrate to your tryptophan mix. Carbohydrates help with the absorption of tryptophan much like vitamin D helps calcium do its job.
In addition to tryptophan, melatonin & carbohydrates, magnesium promotes good sleep. Magnesium helps your muscles relax & reduces your stress hormone, cortisol.
Here are some really good before you go to bed snacks:
1. You can go bananas over bananas. Bananas are a one person gang. Eat a banana & you get all of the good stuff: serotonin, melatonin & magnesium. I would be lying if I told you these banana facts won't turn your world upside down. Did you know that bananas are radioactive? Did you know that bananas are berries? Did you know that each year 1,000 Americans slip on a banana peel and die? Actually that's a fake fact. Click below for more banana insight.
2. Start with Greek yogurt (tryptophan & protein). Add almonds (tryptophan, protein, magnesium & heart healthy fat). Add sour cherries (melatonin).
3. Start with cottage cheese (tryptophan & protein). Add kiwi (tryptophan). Pump it up with pumpkin seeds (tryptophan). Top it off with some honey (melotonin).
4. This sleep inducing combination can't be beat: oatmeal (carbs & melatonin), banana, almonds & honey with a side order of an egg (protein & tryptophan).
5. Finally soy packs a super tryptophan punch. Combine soy with some pineapple which also contains tryptophan & you got something special.
Thanks for reading. Sleep well!