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What Is The Right Food To Eat At Night?

Getting good sleep is incredibly important for your overall health. It may reduce your risk of developing certain chronic illnesses, keep your brain healthy, and boost your immune system. It's generally recommended that you get between 7 and 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, though many people struggle to get enough. You can use many strategies to promote good sleep, including making changes to your diet, as some foods and drinks have sleep-promoting properties.

Diet And Sleep Are Related.

Not getting enough sleep and feeling tired can make us more hungry. Yes, it is true. When tired, we often want to eat more and often find ourselves reaching for energy-rich but nutrient-poor foods. A lack of sleep increases the release of the hormone Ghrelin, which makes us feel hungry, whilst suppressing the release of the hormone Leptin that makes us feel full. Long term lack of sleep or tiredness is therefore linked to an increase in weight, which also increases the risk of snoring. And what we eat and drink during the day can affect our ability to fall asleep. Our food and drink are made up of various nutrients, influencing our sleep patterns. Eating certain foods can help you get in the mood for sleep, whilst others can make you feel alert or wake you during the night. Foods to eat for a better night's sleep:

Foods that contain Melatonin

Melatonin helps your body know when to wake up and go to sleep, with Melatonin levels generally starting to go up about 2 hours before sleep.

  • Foods high in Melatonin include:
    • Nuts and seeds include almonds, walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds and flaxseeds.
    • Fruits and vegetables include banana's, grapes, cherry's asparagus and broccoli.
    • Grains or oats

Foods that contain Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in many foods which play a role in creating Serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects our mood and helps to regulate sleep, and is converted into the sleep hormone melatonin.

  • Foods that contain Tryptophan include:
    • Dairy products including eggs, milk, low-fat yogurt and cheese
    • Nuts and seeds
    • Seafood
    • Poultry
    • Vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and asparagus.
    • Fruit including kiwifruit, apples, bananas and avocado

Beans

Grains or oats

Many of these are protein-rich foods, which may not be enough on their own. However, high protein meals can result in a drop in Serotonin because they contain Tryptophan and many other amino acids, all of which are competing to make their way into the brain. Eating a light carbohydrate can assist. Carbohydrates trigger insulin release, which causes amino acids, but not Tryptophan, to be absorbed into the body. Tryptophan remains in the bloodstream at high levels and can then enter the brain and cause serotonin levels to rise.

Foods that contain Calcium

Dairy products that contain both Tryptophan and Calcium are also good sleep inducers. "Calcium helps the brain use the amino acid tryptophan to manufacture the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. This explains why dairy products, which contain both Tryptophan and Calcium, are one of the top sleep-inducing foods." – Medical News Today.

Some good sources of Calcium which include Tryptophan, are:

  • Some greens, including broccoli
  • Dairy products
  • Nuts including almonds
  • Beans

Foods that contain Vitamin B6

B6 also aids in the production of Serotonin and Melatonin. Deficiencies in Vitamin B6 have been linked with lowered serotonin levels, poor-quality sleep, insomnia and depression.

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  • Vitamin B6 can be found in:
    • Nuts and seeds including sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts and flaxseed
    • Fish including tuna and salmon
    • Meats including chicken, lean beef and lean pork
    • Some fruits, including banana's and avocado

Foods that contain Magnesium

A lack of Magnesium has been linked to increased stress and anxiety levels and difficulty going and staying asleep.

  • Magnesium can be found in:
    • Nuts and Seeds
    • Fish
    • Some dark leafy greens, including spinach and kale
    • Some fruit including bananas and avocado's

Eating after dinner or late at night can result in weight gain and an increased body mass index (BMI). You may also experience indigestion or broken sleep if you eat or drink too close to bedtime. Your metabolism also slows as your body prepares for sleep, and you don't typically need additional calories.

 

  • FRUITS AND VEGGIES. Produce is big on volume and low in calories, with veggies typically having the least amount of calories.
  • WHOLE GRAINS.
  • LEAN PROTEIN.
  • BEANS AND LENTILS.
  • NUTS AND SEEDS.
  • EGGS.
  • BLACK BEANS.
  • SWEET POTATO.
  • The following are some of the best snacks for weight loss.
  • Hummus and vegetables. Hummus is a traditional Mediterranean dish that people make from pureed chickpeas. ...
  • Celery sticks and nut butter. Celery is a low-calorie vegetable.
  • Fruit and nut butter.
  • Low-fat cheese.
  • Nuts.
  • Hard-boiled eggs.
  • Greek yogurt with berries.
  • Edamame.

There's no such thing as a set time you should eat dinner. So, for example, someone who wakes up at 5 is could be having dinner at 5 pm, while someone who goes to sleep at 1 am could be having dinner at 10 pm–none of it is inherently wrong or unhealthy, according to Farah Fahad, registered dietitian and founder of The Farah Effect.

So when exactly should you stop eating? Scientists can't agree on a single set time, but the consensus seems to be within three hours before bedtime. So if you go to bed at 11 pm, don't eat after 8 pm. Banishing late-night snacks after that time could help alleviate the symptoms of acid reflux disease, too.

FAQs About Eating Food At Night

Foods And Drinks You Can Have Before Bed

Almonds

Almonds are a type of tree nut with many health benefits. They're an excellent source of many nutrients, as 1 ounce (28 grams) of the dry roasted nuts contains 18% of an adult's daily needs for phosphorus and 23% for riboflavin. An ounce also provides 25% of the daily manganese needs for men and 31% of the daily manganese needs for women. In addition, eating almonds regularly has been associated with lower risks of a few chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. This is attributed to their healthy monounsaturated fats, fibre, and antioxidants. Antioxidants may protect your cells from harmful inflammation that can lead to these chronic diseases. It's been claimed that almonds may help boost sleep quality as well. This is because almonds, along with several other nuts, are a source of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin regulates your internal clock and signals your body to prepare for sleep. Almonds are also an excellent source of Magnesium, providing 19% of your daily needs in only 1 ounce. Consuming adequate amounts of Magnesium may help improve sleep quality, especially for those who have insomnia. Magnesium's role in promoting sleep is related to its ability to reduce inflammation. Additionally, it may help reduce the stress hormone cortisol levels, which is known to interrupt sleep.

Yet, despite this, research on almonds and sleep is sparse.

One study examined the effects of feeding rats 400 milligrams (mg) of almond extract. It found that the rats slept longer and more deeply than they did without consuming almond extract (16). The potential sleep-related effects of almonds are promising, but more extensive human studies are needed. If you want to eat almonds before bed to determine if they affect your sleep quality, a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving should be adequate or about a handful.

Turkey

Turkey is delicious and nutritious. It's high in protein, with roasted turkey providing almost 8 grams of protein per ounce (28 grams). Protein is important for keeping your muscles strong and regulating your appetite.

Additionally, turkey is a modest source of a few vitamins and minerals, such as riboflavin and phosphorus. In addition, it's an excellent source of selenium, with a 3-ounce serving providing 56% of the Daily Value (DV). Finally, Turkey has a few properties that explain why some people become tired after eating it or think it encourages sleepiness. Most notably, it contains the amino acid tryptophan, which increases the production of Melatonin.

The protein in turkey may also contribute to its ability to promote tiredness. In addition, there's evidence that consuming moderate amounts of protein before bed is associated with better sleep quality, including less waking up throughout the night. However, more research is necessary to confirm turkey's potential role in improving sleep.

Cherries

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The best way to get a good night's sleep is to increase your melatonin intake. Cherries, along with nuts and oats, are natural sources of Melatonin and, when eaten regularly, can help improve your overall sleep cycle. According to the Sleep Health Foundation, there are a few other tips and tricks for your diet and getting a good night's sleep.

  • Limit the amount of caffeine you eat or drink and avoid it for at least four hours before sleeping. Caffeine can make it difficult to fall asleep and cause you to sleep more lightly. It's important to remember that caffeine isn't just in coffee – it's also found in things like tea, soft drink, chocolate.
  • A healthy, balanced diet will improve your energy levels and sleep. Having meals simultaneously each day will help keep your body clock stable.
  • Allow two to three hours between the last main meal of the day and going to bed. A small bedtime snack, such as a piece of fruit or a glass of milk, is fine.
  • Avoid alcohol for at least four hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid spicy foods in the evening, making it more difficult to sleep well at night.
  • Avoid nicotine and smoking. Nicotine is a stimulant and makes it harder to fall and stay asleep. Cigarettes should be avoided altogether, but certainly for at least two hours before bed.
  • Other foods to avoid before bed include cheese and red meat as they are more difficult for the body to digest, and tomatoes that contain high amounts of tyramine, a chemical that stimulates the brain and delays sleep.

Nuts

Nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios and cashews are considered good food for sleep as they contain minerals like Magnesium and zinc. These minerals are essential for a range of bodily processes, such as relieving muscle tension, reducing fatigue, strengthening bones, and contributing to metabolism and the functioning of the nervous system.

Kiwifruit

Kiwifruit is rich in vitamins C and E and potassium and folate, which are believed to help you stay asleep once you have fallen asleep and even achieve a slow wave or 'deep sleep'. One study found some evidence to suggest that people who ate kiwis one hour before bedtime fell asleep faster, slept more and had a better overall sleep quality than those who didn't. Researchers credit this to kiwifruit's antioxidant properties and ability to address folate deficiencies or high concentrations of Serotonin.

Milk

That glass of warm milk our parents gave us before bed as children did something good. Dairy is a natural source of the sleep-inducing tryptophan amino acid. Tryptophan can help you sleep by boosting Melatonin, the chemical that promotes a regular sleep cycle.

Yoghurt

Like milk, yoghurt contains Calcium needed for processing sleep-inducing hormones tryptophan and Melatonin. So, if you're craving a little snack after dinner, a small bowl of yoghurt topped with some oats, whole grains, or fruit could be the perfect pre-bed treat.

Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea is a popular herbal tea that may offer various health benefits. It's well known for its flavones. Flavones are a class of antioxidants that reduce the inflammation that often leads to chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. There's also some evidence that drinking chamomile tea may boost your immune system, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve skin health. In addition, chamomile tea has some unique properties that may improve sleep quality. Specifically, chamomile tea contains apigenin. This antioxidant binds to certain receptors in your brain that may promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia.

One 2011 study in 34 adults found that those who consumed 270 mg of chamomile extract twice daily for 28 days fell asleep 15 minutes faster and experienced less nighttime wakening than those who didn't consume the extract. Another study found that women who drank chamomile tea for two weeks reported improved sleep quality compared to non-tea drinkers. Those who drank chamomile tea also had fewer symptoms of depression, which is commonly associated with sleep problems. Drinking chamomile tea before going to bed is certainly worth trying if you want to improve the quality of your sleep.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish are incredibly healthy, such as salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel. What makes them unique is their exceptional amounts of vitamin D. For example, a 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of sockeye salmon contains 570 international units (IU) of vitamin D. That's 71% of your DV. A similar serving of farmed rainbow trout contains 81% of your DV. Additionally, fatty fish are high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DPA are known for reducing inflammation. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids may protect against heart disease and boost brain health.

The combination of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D in fatty fish can enhance sleep quality, as both have been shown to increase the production of Serotonin. For example, in one study, men who ate 10.5 ounces (300 grams) of Atlantic salmon three times a week for six months fell asleep about 10 minutes faster than men who ate chicken, beef, or pork. This effect was thought to be the result of vitamin D. Those in the fish group had higher vitamin D levels, which was linked to a significant improvement in sleep quality. Eating a few ounces of fatty fish before bed may help you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply. More studies are needed to make a definite conclusion about the ability of fatty fish to improve sleep.

Beans

Beans naturally contain a combination of B vitamins like B6, niacin and folate, which help the brain in many ways. Not only have B vitamins long been used to treat insomnia, but they can also help alleviate stress and anxiety.

Salmon

Fatty fish, such as salmon, may help sleep by providing a healthy dose of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which are involved in the body's regulation of Serotonin. Some studies have found that people who ate salmon three times per week had better overall sleep and improved daytime functioning.

Figs

Figs are rich in potassium, Magnesium, Calcium and iron, which help with blood flow and muscle contraction and are key to falling asleep. Besides being a great dessert option before bed, figs also pack some additional fibre that will help keep you feeling full and stave off hunger pangs which could find you waking for a midnight snack.

Conclusion:

Getting enough sleep is very important for your health. Several foods and drinks may help. This is because they contain sleep-regulating hormones and brain chemicals, such as Melatonin and Serotonin. In addition, some foods and drinks contain high amounts of specific antioxidants and nutrients, such as Magnesium and Melatonin, that are known to enhance sleep by helping you fall asleep faster or stay asleep longer.

To reap the benefits of sleep-enhancing foods and drinks, it may be best to consume them 2–3 hours before bed. Eating immediately before going to sleep may cause digestive issues, such as acid reflux. Overall, more research is necessary to conclude the specific role foods and drinks have in promoting sleep, but their known effects are very promising.

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