These Foods Can Help You Sleep
Eating before bed is typically frowned upon. Technically we all should stop eating by 8pm every night in order to give our bodies the proper time to digest and absorb all the nutrients we took in that day. However, as we all can most likely relate to, late night snacks or meals just seem to happen. Unfortunately, a lot of the foods we choose to eat before bed can actually prevent our bodies from getting a full night of complete rest, due to the fact that parts of our bodies have to keep working throughout the night to digest, but that’s not the case for all foods.
Celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder works with the likes of Drew Barrymore and Kerry Washington, and also is a founding council member of the health and wellness blog “Well And Good.” Recently, Snyder wrote a study on some of the foods that actually aren’t bad to have before bed(in fact, they actually help us sleep). The study was released after she shared a post on her Instagram that showed a graphic of certain foods and drinks one can have before bed to help aid sleep.
The main thing to look for in late night snacks is obviously the ingredients. Certain ingredients that are in our everyday food choices help our bodies in different ways—the key is to find those foods which have benefits that involve muscle/mind relaxation and support easy digestion.
Pumpkin seeds, for example, contain vitamins A and C as well as fiber. When these small compounds combine, the fiber helps your body easily digest, while the vitamins are able to absorb and support your immune system. Snyder included seeds on her list because they also have a high magnesium content, which she claims is a “calming nutrient linked to better sleep.”
Another food that’s definitely been on all of our midnight snack lists that also contains a decent amount of magnesium is dark chocolate. However, as a sweet, Snyder suggests to “try to stick to just one ounce or less of dark chocolate—it contains a small amount of caffeine which could keep you awake.”
Like magnesium, tryptophan is another building block to many common foods that also helps to aid healthy sleep patterns. Tryptophan is an amino acid, and amino acids are the building blocks to all proteins. So chicken, eggs, nuts, etc. they’re all made up of different amino acids. Tryptophan is unique in the sense that it not only gives your body protein, but also has been proven to put the brain in a relaxed state that’s “similar to melatonin.” Popular foods that contain tryptophan that are light enough to enjoy before bed are brown rice, lentils, or spinach.
Spinach itself is one of the more loaded “sleepy superfoods” as it contains both tryptophan and magnesium. Combining both compounds will double the effects on your brain and body. However, digesting leafy greens of any kind is not ideal for overnight. Snyder suggests if you want to have spinach before bed to aid your sleep, blend it up and drink it like a smoothie or soup. This way your body won’t have any difficulties digesting as you sleep; liquids are in general easier to digest compared to solids.
Finally, a more commonly known sleep-aid is caffeine-free tea. “Caffeine-free tea has been shown to promote relaxation and sleep quality. For some, the ritual of having tea before bed signals the beginning of a bedtime routine, priming the mind and body for sleep. My favorites to sip on at night: chamomile, lavender, tulsi, and rooibos,” says Snyder.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.