Damn, i needed this article in my life. This for all ,y late might grinders. hahaha
Pop Quiz: Which is the better bedtime snack - an oatmeal raisin cookie with milk or another serving of the pasta with meat sauce you ate at dinner?
Answer: Go for the cookie and milk.
It's common knowledge that caffeine and alcohol can ruin a good night's sleep if consumed too close to bedtime. But what about foods? Which ones will keep you up and which ones will work in sync with your dreams of sleep?
Everything you put into your mouth within the hours of bedtime can have an impact, a fact I've talked about numerous times. Even water that you drink can disrupt your sleep, which is why I advocate avoiding all liquids within 90 minutes of bedtime (with the exception of herbal tea during your prep time to calm you down and get you ready for sleep). Ninety minutes is about how long it takes for your body to process liquids.
Dinner needs to incorporate some protein but be on the complex carbohydrate track. Studies have shown that meals high on the glycemic index are ideal since carbohydrate intake may help induce sleep. This is when the timing of the meal is most important. It's best to schedule your dinner about four hours prior to your self-prescribed bedtime.
Why? This gives you plenty of time to metabolize whatever you've eaten that day. Meals that are high in carbohydrates and low-to-medium in protein will help you relax in the evening and set you up for a good night's sleep. Here are some of my favorite sleep-friendly meals:
pasta with Parmesan cheese (you may want to avoid red, tomato-based sauces since the high acidity can increase the likelihood for reflux)
scrambled eggs and cheese
tofu stir-fry with brown rice
hummus with whole wheat pita bread (as a side to any lean protein dish)
seafood, pasta, and cottage cheese
meats and poultry with veggies (especially broccoli, spinach, and artichokes)
tuna salad sandwich
chili with beans, not spicy, and with a sweet potato
sesame seeds (rich in tryptophan - for regulating sleep) sprinkled on salad with tuna chunks, and whole wheat crackers
You may need to sneak in a snack closer to bedtime (about an hour prior), however, if you experience hunger pangs at night. That snack should be from the complex carbohydrate category, like a piece of whole grain toast with a thin spread of natural peanut butter or slice of cheese on top.
The best bedtime snack is one that has both complex carbohydrates and a little protein, plus some calcium. Calcium helps the brain use the tryptophan to manufacture melatonin. This explains why dairy products, which contain both tryptophan and calcium, are one of the top sleep-inducing foods. And by combining carbohydrate together with a small amount of protein, your brain produces serotonin, which is known as the "calming hormone."
The oatmeal raisin cookie and milk beats the pasta for this reason. The pasta can be too heavy and, if spicy or garlicky, can present further problems once you lie down and suddenly feel bloated and acid reflux coming on. Similarly, eating too much protein without accompanying carbohydrates may keep you awake, since protein-rich foods contain the amino acid tyrosine, which perks up the brain.
The trick to eating the ideal bedtime snack is to stick with foods that are high in carbohydrates and calcium, and medium-to-low in protein... BUT avoid heavy carbs that you're bound to overdo, like pastas and rices. Watch your portions before bedtime. Some examples:
small slice of apple pie and 1 scoop of ice cream (my favorite)
whole-grain cereal with skim milk (steer clear of the high-sugar cereals)
hazelnuts and tofu
oatmeal raisin cookie and a glass of milk
peanut butter sandwich, ground sesame seeds
fruit and sour cream or cottage cheese
whole grain toast topped with 1 small slice of low-fat cheese
whole wheat crackers topped with mild cheese
a banana with 1 teaspoon of peanut butter
Bedtime snacks should be consumed about an hour before your actual bedtime, and should be within 200 calories - not more. It takes about an hour for the tryptophan in the foods to reach your brain, so don't wait until right before you hop into bed to have your snack.
Warning: If you are lactose intolerant you should use lactose-free products.
Michael Breus, PhD
The Sleep Doctor