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Sleep & Nutrition Part 3: Bedtime Snacks

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Sleep & Nutrition Part 3: Bedtime Snacks

By: Jessica Roy, MS, RD, LDN, Registered Dietitian & Nutrition Counselor and Lucy Bergeron, nutrition intern

Sleep and nutrition work together to create our overall health, meaning that if one is neglected it will undermine the other. Getting adequate sleep is important for supporting healthy metabolism and good nutrition habits. Conversely, balanced meals support better sleep, especially if finished a few hours before bedtime.

Although taking time to digest between dinner and bedtime is helpful, going to bed hungry is a may detract from quality sleep. If you find yourself feeling peckish close to bedtime and need a snack, aim for something small and easily digestible, like complex carbohydrates. Although the research is still incomplete, certain foods have been identified as potentially being sleep improving bedtime snacks and beverages:

  • Tart cherry juice before bed has been found to combat insomnia1, probably because this is a natural source of melatonin, a sleep promoting hormone.
  • Almonds also contain melatonin and are a source of magnesium, which is needed for proper sleep. A study found that rats who consume almond extract sleep longer and more deeply2 than rats who do not. A handful of almonds is a good snack any time of day but might have this extra benefit at night.
  • Turkey, chicken, eggs, fish, and dairy contains tryptophan, and amino acid that has been shown to increase sleep duration3. Warm milk before bed is a popular choice.
  • Peppermint tea has been found to aid digestion4, which makes it ideal between dinner and bedtime.
  • Kiwis an hour or two before bed has been correlated to improved sleep5, although the reason for this is unknown.

Both sleep and nutrition are complicated subjects so it is difficult to draw strong conclusions, especially with both being impacted by many other factors. We also know that morning exposure to sunlight, adequate exercise, and a regular sleep schedule are important for good sleep, and must be considered alongside nutrition. Make your bedroom dark, quiet, and slightly colder at night for best results, and avoid caffeine and electronics too close to bedtime. There’s no doubt that sleep is a crucial part to any health goal, just like nutrition, and it’s not surprising that the two work together to support each other and create health. 

Reach out to nutrition@waverleyoaks.com for your individualized plan that combines the health benefits of sleep and nutrition to achieve your personal wellness goals!

References

  1. Pigeon WR, Carr M, Gorman C, et al. (2010). Effects of a tart cherry juice beverage on the sleep of older adults with insomnia: a pilot study. J Med Food, 13(3):579-83. From https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20438325/
  2. Abdollahnejad, F., Mosaddegh, M., Kamalinejad, M. et al. (2016). Investigation of sedative and hypnotic effects of Amygdalus communis L. extract: behavioral assessments and EEG studies on rat. J Nat Med 70: 190–197. From https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11418-015-0958-9#citeas
  3. Hartmann E. Effects of L-tryptophan on sleepiness and on sleep. J Psychiatr Res, 17(2):107-13. doi: 10.1016/0022-3956(82)90012-7. From https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6764927/
  4. McKay, D., Blumberg, J.B. (2006). A Review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L). Phytotherapy Research, 20(8):619-633. From https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267031227_A_Review_of_the_bioactivity_and_potential_health_benefits_of_peppermint_tea_Mentha_piperita_L
  5. Lin HH, Tsai PS, Fang SC, et al. (2011). Effect of kiwifruit consumption on sleep quality in adults with sleep problems. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr, 20(2):169-74. From https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21669584/