Is it bad to eat before bed?
Perhaps you’ve been told to avoid eating 3 hours before bedtime or you’ll store the extra calories and gain weight. Or maybe you’ve heard eating before bed will give you energy and make it impossible to fall asleep.
Ok, so if polishing off a pint of ice cream is a nighttime ritual in your household, these statements might be true. But I’m here to tell you that eating the right snack before bed can actually help you get that restful sleep you desire and need for optimum health and well-being.
In fact, I’ll argue it’s even worse to go to bed when your empty stomach is making scary growling sounds. Your sleep quality will likely suffer and will impact how you feel the next day.
Why go to bed hungry if your body will actually benefit from a bedtime snack?
After you eat your last meal of the day, your blood sugar levels begin to drop and will continue to plummet throughout the night. The goal of the bedtime snack is to raise those sugar levels to a normal range, so they can be stable all night long. It should be light and consumed about 30 minutes prior to sleep to allow for easy digestion.
Bedtime Snacks Are Not Created Equal
That dangerously delicious pint of ice cream will first spike your sugar levels making it difficult to fall asleep; followed by a sugar crash that is bound to disrupt any sleep you might be catching.
This holds true for any sugary snack as well as simple carbohydrates. Simple carbs when consumed solo quickly turn to sugar in your body which can cause the same reaction as the ice cream. This means even foods that seem healthy can make for poor nighttime choices like pretzel sticks or cereal.
The key is to balance out your snack by pairing a healthy fat with a carbohydrate. Combining the right amount of these two macro nutrients should help you avoid the not-so-fun blood sugar roller coaster ride throughout the night.
So, what EXACTLY should you eat?
Think one serving of carbs and one serving of fat. A healthy carb could be a banana, apple, popcorn, berries, sweet potato, or 100% whole grain bread. Pair one of these with a healthy fat such as an avocado, plain Greek yogurt, eggs, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, almond butter, coconut milk, coconut cream, or cottage cheese.
You may also want to emphasize healthy fruits that contain melatonin, like bananas, kiwis, and especially tart cherries.
My Nighttime Go-To’s
- 1/2 banana with 1 tbsp of almond butter or sliced and served in 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt topped with 1 tbsp flax seed and sliced cherries or kiwi
- 1 cup organic popcorn drizzled with coconut oil + sea salt
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese with sliced apple, almond slivers and cinnamon
- 1/2 Mikey’s Muffin or Ezekiel Toast + 1 tbsp of ghee butter
My Nighttime No-No’s
- Spicy Foods
- Fatty & Sugary Foods
- A rich/heavy meal
So go ahead and hit the fridge before the sack.
A balanced bite before bed may be what you’re missing to get that blissful night sleep you need to feel your best.