food and sleep connection
Sleep Tips

The Food and Sleep Connection

Is it bad to eat before bed? Well, the answer is it depends.

Depending on your sleep situation, certain foods can make it easier to doze off to dreamland. Eating a bowl of cereal or even oatmeal could help you drift off into a sweet slumber, but not all foods are equal. Whether it's a handful of almonds or a glass of  warm milk before bed, there are a few ways eating and drinking can encourage a more restful slumber. If you're curious about the best foods to eat before bed, check out our list of some of the greatest slumber inducing snacks:

3 Foods that Help you Sleep

1. Nuts

Looking for a lighter snack to make your sleepy? Get nutty! Nuts like walnuts,  pistachios and almonds make excellent foods to eat before bed. These handy snacks contain melatonin, a hormone that encourages natural and sound sleeping.

2. Fruits and Juice

Tart cherry juice is nutrient-rich and can reportedly help improve sleep quality. A source of melatonin and tryptophan, this juice is worth the Zzzz's. Also, a banana before bed can make getting a good night's rest easier as they are high in magnesium to help aid the feelings of sleepiness.

3. Tea

Teatime = bedtime. Warm up to wind it down. A cup of relaxing, caffeine-free tea like jasmine, peppermint, lavender or chamomile can be the sip you need to get shut-eye.

The Science Behind Food & Sleep

Before you eat, drink and get sleepy, there's a complex relationship to uncover. Let's look closer at the connection between food and falling asleep.​

Spicy Foods Can Disrupt Sleep

Now we know more about foods that help you sleep, let's discuss which foods can disrupt your dozing. A  study out of Australia confirms what tummy-sensitive folks have long known ⁠— spicy food disrupts sleep. But it goes beyond heartburn. Men who poured Tabasco sauce and mustard on their dinner experienced less deep sleep than those eating bland food. While this may seem like a strange connection, it has been found that eating spicy foods can lead to shorter sleep duration and poor sleep quality, which in turn  impacts health in a myriad of ways.

4 Hours of Sleep Can Lead to a High Carb, Sugary Diet

Can a  lack of sleep affect your food intake? The answer is a resounding yes. A study by the University of Chicago found that people who sleep only 4 hours a night are more likely to choose high carb, sugary and starchy foods over healthier foods. Another study proved sleep-deprived people eat an additional 385 calories a day on  average. Talk about a wake-up call! So, before you consider eating up, make sure you're getting the right amount of Zzzz's.

Lack of Sleep Causes Hormonal Changes in Your Body

A lack of sleep can even cause hormonal changes in the body. When you're low on sleep, Ghrelin, a hormone that causes increased appetite by telling you to eat more, increases and leptin, a hormone that causes you to feel full and tells you to stop eating, decreases. Therefore, when you're overtired, you actually feel hungrier than you would if you had more hours of sleep. This explains the results of an Indian study that found that insomniacs have lower levels of folic acid and vitamin B12, indicating there may be an association between nutrition deficiency and sleep status.

Food for Thought

Ready to give your sleep habits an added boost? It starts by looking at your bedroom. While the right foods can help you on your journey to find a better night's sleep, eating isn't a solve for all sleep problems. Ultimately, the best way to ensure you are eating right is by getting your best sleep every night!

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