Late night snacking isn't ideal, but sometimes you just gotta eat. If you have to work late, get up early, or just have a case of the late night munchies, these foods will put your hunger to bed without ruining your sleep with indigestion.
Image by Leremy (Shutterstock), remixed by Nick Criscuolo.
Why You Shouldn't Go to Bed Hungry
It can be tempting to forego eating before bed altogether and just wait to grab some breakfast when you wake up. Fact is, curbing your hunger will actually help you sleep better. The Sleep Medicine Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) explains:
A bedtime snack can help stabilise your blood sugar levels, particular if you eat dinner early or have a very active day. That's important, because low blood sugar can keep you up at night, as well as make it difficult to wake up feeling energised the next morning. Your body needs energy, even for sleep...
If you don't eat anything before bed in hopes of avoiding indigestion, not only will you be hungry, but there's also a chance you won't sleep well anyway. Definitely go for the snack, but make sure it's the right kind of snack.
Foods that are Perfect for Late Night Snacking
The key to late night snacking is reaching for the right foods and keeping your portions under control. According to UPMC's Sleep Medicine Center, there are some general rules of thumb you can follow when choosing the ideal bedtime food:
- Stick to foods that contain a little protein and healthy fat.
- Keep your portions small and shoot for under 850 kilojoules.
Anything larger than that can make your gastrointestinal system work harder than it needs to while you're trying to sleep. You want to make it as easy as possible to for your stomach to digest the food, so it relieves your hunger and breaks down without a fuss. What kind of foods fit into that range? Here are some of the best options out there:
- Fat-free yogurt: Erin Coleman, Registered and Licensed Dietitian, suggests fat-free yogurt because it has dietary protein, probiotics, and other beneficial nutrients. The protein makes you feel full longer and is just the right size for holding your hunger off until morning. Just stay away from the really sugary stuff.
- White meat: Joel Marion, a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN), recommends grabbing a piece of chicken or turkey meat. White meat digest slowly, has a very low insulin release, and contains glucagon, which helps the body break down stored carbs and fat for energy later. Red meat isn't recommended.
- Cottage cheese: Marion also recommends a small bowl of cottage cheese because it's very slow digesting and contains some filling protein. Just like with the fat-free yogurt, keep your cottage cheese plain and sugar-free, save maybe a few berries if you want.
- Whole wheat crackers: Women's Health Watch at Harvard Medical School suggests that few whole-wheat crackers is enough to satisfy you until breakfast. You don't want to wolf down the whole box, but a few crackers and some cheese or apple slices is more than enough to put you to sleep without aggravating your tummy.
- Vegetables: According to Karen Borsari at Daily Burn, raw vegetables like cucumber, carrots, and broccoli are filling, low in calories and provide complex carbohydrates. The slow break down of those complex carbohydrates will keep you full until morning and make you feel full enough to sleep. If you need to dip your veggies, go for a non-spicy hummus. Hummus contains vitamin B6, which is necessary for the production of melatonin.
- BRAT foods: BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These foods are widely considered the safest things to eat after you've been sick with food poisoning because they're so easy to digest. That also makes them perfect for eating right before bed. Bananas help you fall asleep too, because they're filled with potassium and magnesium, nutrients that double as natural muscle relaxants.
The bonus with these snacks is that they're all pretty healthy options too, so you probably won't be ruining your diet in the process. Stick with these foods and you'll fall asleep and, more importantly, stay asleep.http://lifehacker.com/the-best-and-w...
Foods You Should Always Avoid Before Bed
Some foods will wreak havoc on your insides if you eat them before bed. Indigestion, heartburn, and even acid reflux are all side effects of misguided late night snacking, so it's important you avoid certain foods. UPMC's Sleep Medicine Center recommends avoiding these types of foods:
- High-sugar, high-carbohydrate treats like cookies or ice cream
- Greasy, fatty, and heavy foods
- Large meals that make your digestive system work longer and harder
That means things like candy and fried food should be skipped over entirely. You should also avoid spicy foods that can cause there to be too much acid in your stomach. Lastly, Harvard Women's Health Watch at Harvard Medical School recommends you avoid all caffeine and alcohol:
If you do have a snack before bed, wine and chocolate shouldn't be part of it. Chocolate contains caffeine, which is a stimulant. Surprisingly, alcohol has a similar effect. "People thinks it makes them a little sleepy, but it's actually a stimulant and it disrupts sleep during the night," Dr. Carlson says.
Avoid these foods, stick to the simple snacks listed above, and you'll make your stomach happy enough to take you to sleep town.