Getting good-quality sleep and the recommended 7-9 hours of zzzs each night (1) is very important in terms of general health and mental wellbeing. But each and every night, many of struggle to get the recommended amount of sleep. Almost 1 in 5 people in the UK aren’t able to achieve 7-9 hours a night (2).
That probably doesn’t surprise you – but you might be surprised to learn that what we eat and drink does impact the quality of our sleep. And specifically what we eat and directly before climbing between the sheets.
So, what are the best foods and drinks to eat before bed? And are there any particular foods and drinks we should be trying to avoid – be it directly before bed or altogether – from a sleep perspective? Here are 5 of the best and 5 of the worst foods to eat before bed.
the 5 best foods to eat before bed
Thorough research and a few trusted sources can help us learn more about what we should be eating before bed and why. Read on to learn more.
Yes, you read that right – almonds! This type of tree nut boasts many maybe health benefits including helping with weight loss; reducing the risk of heart disease; supporting blood sugar management; supporting your brain; and supporting gut health (3).
Almonds are an excellent source of many nutrients. Just one ounce (28 grams) of Almonds contains 14% of an adult’s daily required amount of phosphorus, 19% of our recommended riboflavin intake; 31% of our daily manganese requirements (4). Pretty impressive, eh?
It’s also been claimed that almonds could actually help us to achieve a better quality of sleep too. This is because almonds are rich in the sleep hormone melatonin (5). And a rise in melatonin will promotes a state of quiet wakefulness that helps your body prepare for sleep (6).
Almonds are also rich in magnesium, delivering 22% of an daily required amounts in a single ounce (7). Consuming the right amounts of magnesium can help to improve sleep quality, and enable you to fall asleep faster too (8).
All of this makes almonds one of the best foods to eat before bed in our books.
That’s right folks, turkey is not just for Christmas. It’s also for bedtime!
It’s packed with protein. Roasted turkey (and we’re talking about the meat only here – not the skin!) provides 8.4g of protein per ounce (28 grams) (9). That means that almost a third of the turkey you consume is entirely protein! And protein helps to keep your muscles strong and helps to regulate your appetite (10).
Think about Christmas dinner – you’re already feeling that post-feast slump that means a nap is on the cards, right? Us too! Well, turkey actually contains a couple of properties that explain the reasons for that. And it isn’t just overconsumption (which we’re all guilty of during festive feasts).
Turkey actually contains the amino acid L-tryptophan. And our brains convert L-tryptophan into melatonin which helps to prepare our bodies for sleep (11).
And for these reasons, turkey seems a reasonable pre-bedtime snack to consume too!
3. oily fish
Okay diet police! There’s a reason that oily fish have made our best foods to eat before bed list. So let’s hold the judgement (for now) and dive into our research.
The term oily fish refers to species like salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel. And guess what, they are incredibly healthy (12)! Oily fish contains a wealth of vitamin D (aka the sunshine vitamin) which is essential when it comes to keeping our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy (13). Approximately 1 in 6 adults in the UK have lower than recommended levels of Vitamin D. Plus, around 20% of children are at risk of a vitamin D deficiency too (14).
Now let’s follow them astonishing facts up with why oily fish ideal to eat before bed!
Just one third of a pink salmon fillet (or approximately 95g) contains a massive 70% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin D (15). And compare this to a similar sized serving of farmed rainbow trout which actually contains a massive 91% of your vitamin D daily requirements (16).
Oily fish are also rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. And the omega-3 fatty acids that relate to sleep are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Both of these nutrients are thought to help with serotonin regulation (17). And serotonin (combined with the neurotransmitter dopamine) plays a vital part in the quality of sleep we achieve (18)
So, with that in mind, eating oily fish before climbing into bed has the potential to ensure you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply.
4. white rice
We bet you didn’t expect to see white rice on this list. It’s all wholegrain, wholemeal and whole wheat these days! But, white rice is a staple food for more than 3.5 billion people across the world (19).
White rice (ergo brown rice minus the wheat and germ) contains a good level of vitamins and minerals.
An 80-gram serving of cooked white rice offers 12% of your daily recommended folate intake, and 9% of the daily recommended thiamine intake, and 16% of your daily recommended manganese intake too (20).
White rice is also high in carbs, providing 22.9 grams per 80-gram serving. Given this high carbohydrate content, it is thought that white rice can promote a sense of fullness and restfulness.
So, if you’re looking for a tasty meal that might help you sleep better, consider implementing white rice in there somewhere!
5. goji berries
A study in the United States found that drinking goji berry juice can improve energy, mood, and digestive health. In fact, the findings indicated that those in the goji berry juice group increased their ratings across energy levels, quality of sleep, ease of awakening, ability to focus, and happiness by day 15 (21).
The red-orange colour of these goji berries is indicative of their high antioxidant content. And antioxidants help to relieve oxidative stress which is one of the reasons we lie awake tossing, turning and hoping sleep will come (22).
If you’d like sleep to come easier (wouldn’t we all?), we’d recommend giving goji berries a try! It definitely makes our top 5 best foods to eat before bed list anyway.
the 5 worst foods to eat before bed
Subject change! Here are 5 foods to avoid like the plague, especially when bed time is in sight.
Okay, we’ll admit that this one seems obvious given that we usually consume it when we want to stay awake. But did you know that loads of food contain hidden caffeine. So, along with the usual caffeine suspects we strive to avoid at bedtime (ergo tea, coffee, and energy drinks) here are a few others to start dodging before snuggling up under the duvet:
- any food that contain kola nut in its ingredients list
- green teas
- some painkillers
Caffeine stimulates our central nervous system. What this results in is increased feelings of alertness which leaves us feel more awake (23) – not ideal for bedtime!
But, as with most things, caffeine tends to affect different people in different ways. Some of us are very sensitive to caffeine which has a knock-on effect where sleep is concerned. Others will be able to tolerate caffeinated beverages and foods closer before bed without any negative impact on their sleep. This is simply down to our genetic variations (24).
That said, regardless of your caffeine sensitivity levels, we’d still list caffeine as one of the worst foods to consume before bed.
2. spicy foods
Apologies fellow spice-lovers! Unfortunately, eating spicy foods before bed could lead to difficulty falling asleep for more than one reason.
Eating spicy foods is often linked to indigestion. Spicy food can also further aggravate symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux too (25).
But how does this affect us when we lie down to go to sleep? Well, these spicy food-related symptoms are prone to worsening. Acid could travel into the oesophagus, which in turn causes irritation resulting ultimately in sleep disturbances (26).
So, if find that eating spicy foods triggers heartburn or you suffer from acid reflux, steering clear of spicy foods before bed is a good idea.
3. fatty foods
Say goodbye to bedtime fried chicken and fatty meats. Unfortunately, fatty foods have the potential to reduce your sleep quality.
Research shows that greater saturated fat intake can have a negative impact on your sleep pattern. One study found that consuming less fibre, but more saturated fat and sugar is associated with lighter and more disrupted sleep (27).
Eating a fatty meal closer to bedtime may also affect your ability to fall asleep. As your digestive tract slow down while you’re asleep, eating a fatty meal could actually burden your digestive system. And this would ultimately lead to discomfort that can prevent you from being able to fall asleep (28).
Fatty foods are also known to amplify the symptoms of acid reflux, which could also result in difficulty falling asleep (29).
Okay, so this one isn’t a food. But it is worth mentioning that drinking alcohol close to bedtime isn’t in your best interest where sleep is concerned.
As Brits, lots of us like to have a drink or two in the evening as a way to relax and unwind before bedtime. In fact, many of us choose to use alcohol as an aid to get to sleep (30).
But, even though a couple of drinks makes you feel tired at first, studies show that alcohol causes sleep disturbances, keeps you awake at night, and can even lead to insomnia (31).
And because alcohol consumption is closely linked to insomnia, healthcare professionals often recommend abstaining from alcohol before bed as part of the treatment for insomnia (32).
So, even though alcohol is likely to make you tired at first, it will negatively impact the quality of sleep you achieve on the whole. Ditch the booze before bed!
5. acidic foods
As bedtime draws ever closer, it’s time to start decreasing the amount of stomach acid produced. And not eating acidic foods is one of the best ways to do this.
And examples of acidic foods range from those typical fruits like lemons and limes to ready meals; dairy products such as cheese, butter and milk; pizza, pasta and so much more (33).
The way acidic food impacts sleep is similar to the affects of eating spicy food before bed. Acidic foods can trigger acid reflux which will lead to discomfort while trying to fall asleep and could also result in broken sleep patterns (34).
So, if you want a restful night’s sleep without any disruption or difficulty falling asleep, skip out on acidic foods. These are one of the worst types of food to eat before bed.
foods to eat before bed: faqs
To finish up, let’s look at a few frequently asked questions relating to the topic of what to and what not to eat before bed. Find out more below:
does eating cheese before bed give you bad dreams?
No. Well, there’s no scientific evidence to suggest that this is true anyway. However, cheese is and acidic food and is quite hard to digest. So, eating cheese before bed has the potential to cause sleep disruption (35).
when should you stop eating before bed?
In general, it is recommended that you stop eating 2 to 4 hours before you plan to climb into bed. The reason for this is simple. Eating meals enough in advance of your usual bedtime gives your body enough time to digest your food. This should help to avoid sleep disruptions (36).
what else can help to improve my sleep?
Before embarking on a new mattress shopping spree, consider the following:
- How long have you had your current mattress? If the answer to this question is more than eight years, it’s highly likely you’re in need of a new model.
- Are there visible signs of wear and tear? Any signs of sagging, tears or rips, holes, stains or any other damage that are apparent are good indications that it’s time to upgrade.
- Check for invisible signs of wear and tear! If your mattress is lumpy, lacking support or you can feel springs poking you during the night, the time has come to invest in a sleep solution that will help you achieve the quality of sleep you deserve.
At eve, we are well versed in the importance of a proper support system to promote better sleep. This is why we offer a wide range of mattress tailored to a wide range of sleep positions. Check out our premium hybrid mattress. This model has been designed to support every sleep position preference while ensuring you get the kip you need to succeed.
- Pink salmon Nutrition Facts - Eat This Much
- Trout Nutrition Facts - Eat This Much
- White rice Nutrition Facts - Eat This Much