Sleep. A good night of it readies you for the physical and mental challenges of the day ahead. But over time, an optimal quality and quantity of sleep can also help you stay healthy, achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
You can see why you would want to do all you can to ensure that you are snoozing like a champ each night. To that end, you might get a white noise machine, invest in some blackout curtains, avoid using your devices or watching TV in the hour or two before bed.
But all that forethought and consideration might be undercut if you’re eating foods that aren’t conducive to you getting some restorative, rejuvenating, reparative sleep. It seems a shame, no?
To help you sleep better, here’s a list of some of the best and worst foods to eat before your body powers down for crucial maintenance work each and every night.
Some of the Best and Worst Foods to Eat Before Bed
It’s not always going to be possible to avoid these before bed, but this list might make you think twice about grabbing that slice of midnight pizza.
Frozen, Prepackaged, Processed Dinners
Frozen meals can be convenient when you’re short on time, but frozen dinner diners beware: you could be setting yourself up for a night of disrupted sleep. Why? Because frozen dinners typically have a very high sodium content.
According to the American Heart Association, over 75 percent of the sodium we eat comes from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods. Research has reported that there may be associations between higher sodium intake and compromised sleep quality. However, this connection has not been firmly established.
Excessive Amounts of Fatty Foods
While avocado, nuts, and other foods high in healthy monounsaturated fats aren’t likely to prevent you from getting a restful night’s sleep, that large pepperoni and sausage pizza might. For some, high fat foods can trigger acid reflux — commonly called heartburn — which is very unpleasant. And, even if you don’t suffer from heartburn, you might find it hard to sleep simply because you’re feeling so stuffed.
This one might seem a little counter intuitive because an alcoholic drink can be relaxing and can leave you pining for bed. But while a drink might aid your ability to initially doze off, over the course of the night, alcohol will actually disrupt your deep sleep. Decades of research have found that alcohol consumption can cause you to wake up throughout the night.
Ok, so now you know to avoid alcohol, dessert, and late night takeout before bed… so what can you eat?
If you’re working out regularly, trying to build and/or maintain muscle mass, casein protein can help your body do just that. Casein is a milk protein and that is absorbed by the body at a slower rate than whey protein or soy and has been shown to help support protein synthesis and helping muscles grow over a long duration (like night).
Tart cherry’s anthocyanins have been shown to help reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness.
Dark leafy greens
Magnesium is needed for 300 biochemical reactions in the human body, and one of those includes muscle contraction and relaxation. While the jury is out with regard to magnesium as a sleep aid, one recent double-blind, randomized clinical trial of 46 elderly participants demonstrated that magnesium had a positive effect on the quality of their sleep, and impacted not only the length of time they slept but also how easy they found waking up. Foods high in magnesium include dark leafy greens like spinach and chard, almonds, pumpkin seeds, black beans, and quinoa.