It’s fairly common for people to get hungry before bedtime, but not all foods you consume will help you sleep. In fact, most will do just the opposite.
But before we get into examining sleep-helping and sleep-hindering foods, let’s look at general nighttime sleep-hygiene habits that can help you sleep.
First, if you’re having a big dinner, make sure it’s several hours before bedtime, not just one or two hours. Fatty foods can cause digestion problems and keep you up at night if consumed too closely to beddy-bye. Spicy foods can also cause indigestion, keeping you up.
Like big meals, avoid alcohol several hours before bedtime. While consuming a nightcap (or two) can help you fall asleep, the overall effect will not be positive. Your sleep quality will suffer, and you’ll often wake up in the middle of the night wide awake.
Ditto with caffeine products. Coffee and even tea consumed within 10 or 12 hours of bedtime can disrupt your ability to fall asleep. Watch your coffee, tea and energy drink consumption with a mind to half-a-day-before-bed as cutoff time.
Other liquids can cause problems for sleep as well, forcing you to get up to relieve yourself too often if you consume too many liquids before bedtime. Carbonated beverages are even worse, being diuretic in nature (causing bathroom visits).
Smoking also is bad for sleep and for health in general. Cut back, or better yet, resolve to quit. Nicotine is a stimulant that can keep you awake when you need to be sleeping, to say nothing of the health risks the substance entails.
Now, as for foods not to eat too close to bedtime, you can start by eliminating most everything. The best sleep-producing products contain carbohydrates and tryptophan. Think Thanksgiving dinner light: have half a turkey sandwich. Other sleep-aiding snacks include granola with low-fat milk or yogurt, a small bowl of whole-grain, low-sugar cereal, or even a banana.
If you do need to snack before bed, know your body. For some people, these light snacks can help with the sleep routine; for others, even any food can ruin the night’s rest.