The best and worst food before bed.

Sleep must be sweet, but food before bed is not. We will tell you what 9 foods you can not eat in the evening, and what you can eat instead.

Despite the fact that milk is considered a good source of protein and calcium, you should not use it before going to bed because of the lactose that it contains. Lactose is a sugar that should be avoided before bedtime.


Pasta - one of the most high-calorie sources of carbohydrates. Such a snack can easily contain 400 calories and more. And all these calories are likely to settle on your waist.


As a result, your progress will slow down. People who do not get enough sleep regularly are more likely to have elevated levels of cortisol. This hormone provokes the breakdown of muscle fibers.


Pizza is too high in calories for evening meals. Worse, you will receive a loading dose of carbohydrates and fats that will remain in your stomach all night.


Chili has the ability to boost metabolism, which is very good during the day. At night, this effect can lead to insomnia.


The best meal before bedtime

Products rich in tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is found in most plant proteins, especially legumes are rich in it. We are interested in the fact that the level of tryptophan influences the level of serotonin in the body. And serotonin, a pleasure hormone, has a significant effect on appetite, mood and sleep. This means that if you eat food rich in tryptophan before bedtime, you can improve the quality of your sleep.

What food is rich in tryptophan? Turkey, soybeans, pumpkin seeds. They can be combined with other products. For example, whole grain bread, pasta, crackers, rice in combination with turkey, eggs, dairy products - this is one of the best ways to eat before bedtime. The thing is that food rich in carbohydrates helps tryptophan products to digest faster.

Cherry. It is one of the few natural sources of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that is often recommended as a sleeping pill. In one study, it was discovered that a glass of sour cherry juice before bedtime helps older people fight insomnia.

Foods rich in magnesium. Foods that contain large amounts of magnesium, such as dark green leafy vegetables or avocados, are the very natural remedies that help you fall asleep. It has been proven that magnesium improves the quality of sleep in older people (the duration of sleep and the ability to wake up easily) suffering from insomnia.

Food that steals sleep

There are a number of products that are not recommended to use before bedtime.

Caffeine. It will not be news that caffeine interferes with healthy sleep, and yet this advice is worth recalling. Reduce the daily intake of caffeine to 200-300 mg. And most importantly, do not use it before bedtime. Remember that caffeine is not only found in espresso or latte, but also in chocolate, energy drinks and tea.

Alcohol. Of course, a glass (or two) of red wine at night may be accompanied by drowsiness, but drinking more alcohol can disrupt sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, do not consume more than one glass of light alcoholic beverages per day.

Fatty food. Fatty foods, such as chips, fried foods, or ice cream, have a bad effect on sleep quality. The fact is that fat is absorbed for a long time, which means that all this time the body works, instead of resting.

9 best bedtime foods

Almond in itself is good for health. Walnut saturates the body with various nutrients. 28 g of almonds contain 14% of the daily consumption of phosphorus, 32% of manganese, 17% of riboflavin.

Regular consumption of almonds reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and various diseases of the cardiovascular system. This is possible due to the fact that almonds are a source of monounsaturated fatty acids, fiber and antioxidants.

Scientists have found almonds to help improve sleep. He, like some other nuts, is a source of melatonin. This hormone is responsible for the regulation of sleep.

In 28 g of almonds contain 19% of the daily human need for magnesium. People with insomnia often have a deficiency of this trace element.

It is believed that magnesium is necessary to ensure normal sleep, as it has a pronounced anti-inflammatory effect. In addition, it helps reduce the level of cortisol in the body. It is proven that this stress hormone negatively affects sleep.

On this occasion, studies were conducted on rats. Several rodents participated in the test, receiving 400 mg of almond extract. It was possible to establish that the animals slept longer, and their sleep was deeper compared to rats, which did not offer magnesium extract.

Scientists suggest that the same way almonds affect people. However, large-scale studies of this theory have not yet been conducted. Therefore, it is recommended to eat no more than 28 grams of almond (a small handful of nuts) before bedtime. It is a source of melatonin and magnesium. Both of these components are necessary for people suffering from insomnia, so almonds can be attributed to products that have a beneficial effect on sleep quality.

Turkey meat is tasty and healthy. 28 g of fillet contains 4 g of easily digestible protein. It is necessary for the structure of cells. Protein food well saturates the body, so that people will not experience feelings of hunger for a long time. This is true for people who are accustomed to eat at night.

Enough 28 g of turkey, to 5% to satisfy the daily need of the body in riboflavin and phosphorus, and 9% in selenium. There is evidence that turkey is an excellent sleeping pill. So many people say, but this has not been confirmed by scientific experiments. At the same time, scientists have guessed why eating this bird’s meat for food helps one fall asleep faster and harder. It's all about tryptophan. This amino acid stimulates the production of melatonin, which is responsible for human sleep.

There is evidence that eating protein foods in the evening can improve the quality of sleep. By eating turkey fillets, you can save yourself from frequent waking in the middle of the night. It is important to confine a small portion, overeat in the evening is not recommended.

So, the use of turkey for sleep is due to the content of tryptophan in it.

What is and in what quantity

In order to sleep soundly like a baby, it is better to avoid eating large amounts of food just before bedtime. If you have a late dinner, make your portion smaller than usual. If you are just snacking, put the required amount of food on a plate. Otherwise, you risk to eat the whole pack, especially if you are sitting in front of the TV. Here are a few snacks that you can afford without harm to sleep:

  • nonfat milk and whole grains,
  • natural peanut butter and whole grain bread,
  • yogurt with half a banana or a tablespoon of chopped walnut,
  • two cups of popcorn (without additives) sprinkled with olive oil.

Sacrificing sleep for the next night snack is not the best thought. You can have a bite at any time, and sleep well, as a rule, only at night. But what to do if the time of sleep, and the stomach rumbles? Drink a glass of warm milk and eat a couple of crackers. This will be quite enough for the stomach to last until breakfast.

If you are forced to eat right before bedtime, here are three rules that are recommended to follow:

  1. Prefer foods that are rich in tryptophan (turkey, eggs, milk).
  2. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and fatty foods.
  3. Eat smaller portions and control the amount of food eaten.

Chamomile tea

Everyone knows about the benefits of chamomile tea for human health. The drink is a source of antioxidants that help the body in the fight against cancer. They neutralize free radicals, preventing them from damaging healthy cells. Chamomile tea is useful for the cardiovascular and immune system. It allows you to reduce anxiety and anxiety, get rid of depression.

Chamomile tea helps fight insomnia. It contains apigenin. This antioxidant binds to receptors in the brain and helps it tune to rest.

A study was conducted in which 34 adults participated. They all drank 270 mg of chamomile extract 2 times a day for 3 weeks. It was possible to establish that they fell asleep 15 minutes faster than the subjects from the control group. The number of awakenings also decreased.

In another study, women participated. They drank chamomile tea for 14 days. All patients indicated that they had become sleepier. They were no longer bothered by daytime sleepiness, the symptoms of depression due to insomnia disappeared. Therefore, we can assume that the reception of chamomile tea in the evening improves the quality of sleep.

Kiwi is a healthy and low-calorie fruit. One fruit contains about 50 kcal. It satisfies 117% of human daily requirement of vitamin C by 117% and 38% of vitamin K. Kiwi is a source of folic acid and potassium, as well as of many other trace elements. Eating kiwi food can improve digestion, reduce the intensity of inflammatory reactions in the body, reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. This is possible due to antioxidants and fiber, which are part of this fruit.

Interesting! Studies have shown that kiwi helps to improve the quality of sleep, if you eat it in the evening. The experiment involved 24 people. Every evening for several weeks they ate one kiwi before bed. It was possible to establish that they had fallen asleep 42% faster than before. Total sleep time increased by 15%. The number of nighttime awakenings has decreased.

Scientists suggest that this effect is due to the fact that the composition of kiwi includes substances that contribute to the production of serotonin. This hormone helps the brain to better regulate sleep cycles.

Scientists continue to conduct research on the effect of kiwi on sleep. However, today it is proved that the fruit eaten in the evening will help get rid of insomnia.

Cherry juice

Concentrated cherry juice promotes better sleep. It is useful to drink for people suffering from insomnia. This effect is ensured by the fact that cherry juice contains melatonin. He is responsible for the internal rhythms of the human body. Increasing its blood concentration is a signal that it is time to go to bed.

2 studies were conducted on the effect of cherry juice on sleep. The participants in the experiment drank 237 ml of the drink twice a day for two weeks. During this time, the duration of their sleep increased by 1 hour and 30 minutes. Such results are impressive, but large-scale studies are required that would confirm the hypothesis put forward.

However, drinking concentrated cherry juice before bedtime is not prohibited for people with insomnia. It is possible that from this the quality of night rest will increase. After all, the presence of melatonin in the drink is a proven fact.

Fatty fish

Fat sea fish is good for health. Most nutrient-rich polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in tuna, trout, salmon, and mackerel. These marine inhabitants contain vitamin D. Only 100 g of salmon will allow 50% of the daily human need for this solar vitamin.

Oily marine fish is a source of omega-3 fatty acids. It has a lot of EPA and DHA, which have a pronounced anti-inflammatory effect. Sea fish helps to improve the functioning of the brain and get rid of heart disease.

The unique combination of omega-3 and vitamin D, make sea fish an excellent tool in the fight against insomnia. It has been proven that both of these substances stimulate the production of serotonin. This hormone, in turn, allows you to regulate night and day rhythms.

A study was conducted in which men consumed 300 g of salmon 3 times a week. The experiment lasted for six months. It was possible to establish that by the end of it they began to fall asleep 10 minutes faster than those men who ate chicken, beef and pork.

Scientists suggest that it is vitamin D that makes fish a good sleep product. Therefore, they recommend that all people suffering from insomnia, in the evening instead of fatty pork steak eat a portion of salmon.


Walnuts are good for health. They are rich in nutrients, they include more than 19 vitamins and trace elements. 28 g of nuts contain 2 g of fiber and 4 g of protein. Most of them in magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. Nuts saturate the body with omega-3 fatty acids and linoleic acid. One handful is enough to satisfy hunger for a long time.

This product is useful for the heart. It is proved that it helps to reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood, which means that nuts can be eaten to prevent atherosclerosis.

Scientists have found that walnuts contain food melatonin. This is the main sleep hormone, the lack of which leads to insomnia.

The quality of night rest is improved due to the fact that walnuts are a source of alpha-lipoic acid and omega-3. Once in the body, they are transformed into substances that stimulate the production of serotonin. He takes an active part in the regulation of sleep. Therefore, all people suffering from insomnia, it is useful in the evenings to eat a handful of walnuts.

Tea with passionflower

Passionflower is a herb that is brewed like a healing tea. The plant has been used for a long time, because even our ancestors knew about its beneficial properties.

Passionflower contains antioxidants that have an anti-inflammatory effect, help improve immunity, reduce the risk of developing heart disease. The herb has a beneficial effect on the state of the nervous system, helps to cope with anxiety and irritability. The soothing effect is provided by apigenin. This antioxidant binds to receptors in the brain and acts as a natural anti-depressant.

There is evidence that tea with passiflora helps the brain to produce GABA. It is necessary for the body to deal with stress, fatigue and nervous tension.

Tea with passionflower allows you to get rid of insomnia. Therefore, it is useful to drink in the evening.

A study was conducted in which 41 adults participated. They all drank a cup of tea with passionflower before bedtime. After the experiment was completed, the participants noted that they had become sleepier. Therefore, this drink can be used to combat insomnia.

White rice is a popular food in many countries. Unlike brown rice, it is free from coarse husk. Because of this, it contains less fiber, nutrients and antioxidants. However, this means that white rice is not good for health.

The product contains many vitamins and microelements. A portion of 100 g allows for 4% to cover the daily need of the body in folic acid, 11% in thiamine and 24% in manganese.

White rice has a high glycemic index. Its use in food leads to rapid saturation, contributes to an increase in blood sugar levels. Therefore, it should be a few hours before bedtime.

The product allows you to improve the quality of night rest. This has been proven in a large-scale study. 1848 people took part in it. It was possible to establish that those people who ate white rice in the evening, slept longer.Therefore, this product can be eaten for dinner, but in moderation.

Other products that improve sleep

In addition to the 9 products described above, there is another food that can be eaten before bedtime to combat insomnia.

These include:

Milk. It is a source of tryptophan. It is proved that milk can improve the quality of sleep in the elderly. To increase the effectiveness of the drink help adequate physical exertion.

Bananas. These fruits contain tryptophan and magnesium, so they allow you to get enough sleep and feel rested.

Oatmeal. It is a source of carbohydrates, along with white rice. Therefore, it is useful to eat for people with insomnia. In addition, oatmeal contains melatonin.

Cottage cheese. It has a lot of milk protein. Casein promotes muscle recovery. He actively works when a person is sleeping, so it is good to eat cottage cheese for dinner.

To investigate the influence of all products on sleep is quite problematic. Therefore, you need to independently pay attention to what food sleeps better, and after what dishes insomnia occurs.

All the foods that contain melatonin help to get enough sleep. Useful food with antioxidants, proteins and magnesium. No matter what product a person chose for dinner, you need to eat it no later than 2 hours before bedtime. Failure to follow this recommendation will lead to problems with digestion and will trigger the development of reflux disease.

Education: Moscow Medical Institute. I. M. Sechenov, specialty - “Medicine” in 1991, in 1993 “Occupational diseases”, in 1996 “Therapy”.

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3. Chamomile tea

Chamomile tea is a popular herbal tea that can offer various health benefits.

Its flavon content is well known, a class of antioxidants that reduce inflammation that often leads to chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease (21, 22, 23, 24).

There is also some evidence that drinking chamomile tea can boost your immune system, reduce anxiety and depression, and improve skin health. In addition, chamomile tea has unique properties that can improve sleep quality (21).

In particular, chamomile tea contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in your brain that can contribute to sleepiness and reduce insomnia (21, 25).

In one study, 34 adults found that those who consumed 270 mg of chamomile extract twice a day for 28 days fell asleep 15 minutes faster and experienced less nightly awakening compared to those who did not consume the extract (26).

In another study, it turned out that women who drank chamomile tea for two weeks reported improved sleep quality compared to non-edible drinks.

Those who drank chamomile tea also had fewer symptoms of depression, which is usually associated with sleep problems (27).

Chamomile tea before bedtime is certainly worth a try if you want to improve the quality of your sleep.

Summary: Chamomile tea contains antioxidants that can contribute to sleepiness, and, as has been shown, drinking improves overall sleep quality.

Kiwi - low-calorie and very nutritious fruits.

One average kiwi contains only 50 calories and a significant amount of nutrients, including 117% of your daily needs for vitamin C and 38% for vitamin K.

It also contains a decent amount of folic acid and potassium, as well as several trace elements (28).

In addition, eating kiwi fruit can benefit your digestive tract health, reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol. These effects are due to the high content of antioxidants from the fibers and carotenoids that they provide (29, 30).

According to research on their potential to improve sleep quality, kiwi can also be one of the best foods you can eat before bedtime (31).

In the four-week study, 24 people consumed two kiwis one hour before going to bed every night. At the end of the study, participants fell asleep 42% faster than when they did not eat anything before bedtime.

In addition, their ability to sleep at night without waking up improved by 5%, and the total sleep time increased by 13% (32).

The associated effects of kiwi fruit are thought to be related to their serotonin content, a brain chemical that helps regulate your sleep cycle (32, 33, 34, 35).

It has also been suggested that antioxidants in kiwi, such as vitamin C and carotenoids, may be partly responsible for their sleep-stimulating effects. This is thought to be related to their role in reducing inflammation (32, 33, 36).

To determine the effects that can be experienced kiwi while improving sleep, additional scientific data are needed. However, eating 1–2 medium-sized kiwis at bedtime can help you fall asleep faster and fall asleep longer.

Summary: Kiwis are rich in serotonin and antioxidants, both of which can improve sleep quality when eating before bedtime.

8. Tea Passionflower

Passionflower tea is another herbal tea that has traditionally been used for many years to treat a number of diseases.

It is a rich source of flavonoid antioxidants that are known for their role in reducing inflammation, improving immune health and reducing the risk of heart disease (60, 61).

In addition, passion tea has been studied to reduce anxiety.

This is due to its content of apigenin, an antioxidant that causes a calming effect by binding to certain receptors in your brain (61).

There is also some evidence that the use of passiflora tea increases the production of GABA, a brain chemical that helps inhibit other brain chemicals that cause stress, such as glutamate (62).

The soothing properties of passionflower tea may contribute to sleepiness, so it may be helpful to drink it before bedtime.

In a seven-day study, 41 adults drank a cup of passionflower tea before bedtime. They rated the quality of sleep significantly better when they drank tea, compared to when they did not drink tea (63).

Additional research is needed to determine the ability of passionate flower tea to stimulate sleep, but definitely worth a try if you want to improve the quality of sleep.

Summary: Passion tea may affect sleep due to its antioxidant apigenin content, as well as its ability to increase GABA production.

9. White rice

White rice is a grain that is widely used as a staple food in many countries.

The main difference between white and brown rice is that white rice had bran and germ, which reduces its content in fiber, nutrients and antioxidants.

However, white rice still contains a decent amount of several vitamins and minerals. 3. A 5-ounce (100 g) serving of white rice provides 14% of your daily folate needs, 11% for thiamine and 24% for manganese (64).

White rice is also high in carbohydrates, providing 28 grams per 5 ounce serving (100 grams). Its carbohydrate content and lack of fiber contribute to its high glycemic index, which is an indicator of how quickly blood sugar levels increase (65, 66).

It has been suggested that eating foods with a high glycemic index, such as white rice, a few hours before bed can help improve sleep quality (18, 67).

In one study, the sleep habits of 1,848 people were compared on the basis of their intake of white rice, bread or noodles. Higher rice intake was associated with improved sleep, including a longer sleep duration (68).

It has also been reported that white rice may be most effective in improving sleep, if it is consumed at least an hour before sleep (18).

Despite the potential role that white rice can consume in promoting sleep, it is best consumed in moderation due to a lack of fiber and nutrients.

Summary: White rice can be good for bedtime meals because of its high glycemic index, which can help improve sleep.

Other Products That May Promote Sleep

Several other products have prodrome-promoting properties, but they have not been studied specifically for their effects on sleep.

  • Milk: Another well-known source of tryptophan has been shown to improve sleep in the elderly, especially with melatonin and in combination with exercise (19, 69, 70).
  • Bananas: Bananas contain tryptophan and are a good source of magnesium. Both of these properties can help you sleep well (19, 71).
  • Oat flour: Like rice, oatmeal is high in carbohydrates and is said to cause drowsiness when consumed before bedtime. In addition, oats are a known source of melatonin (10).
  • Cottage cheese: Contains a significant amount of casein, which is a milk protein that is known to support muscle recovery and growth when consumed before bedtime (72, 73).

Summary: Many products have characteristics that are known to improve the quality of sleep, but their specific role in sleep is not supported by scientific evidence.

Bottom line

Getting enough sleep is very important for your health.

Fortunately, several foods can help, thanks to their content of sleep-regulating hormones and brain chemicals, including melatonin and serotonin.

In addition, some foods contain large amounts of certain antioxidants and nutrients, such as magnesium, which are known to improve sleep, helping you fall asleep faster or stay asleep longer.

To take advantage of the products that improve sleep, it is best to use them for 2-3 hours before bed. This is because eating right before bedtime can cause digestive problems, such as acid reflux.

In general, more research is needed to conclude the particular role that products have in promoting sleep, but their known effects are very promising.

Why do we need carbohydrates in the evening?

The fact is that carbohydrates (namely, foods with a high glycemic index) activate the production of the hormone melatonin, from which we feel sleepy. In addition, this hormone is responsible for the quality of our sleep and for the restoration of the body. It is extremely popular in the United States and even sold there in pharmacies. It is advertised as a remedy for all misfortunes: for prolonging youth, forgiving diseases, against wrinkles ... And so it is! After all, melatonin is responsible for ensuring that our body renews cells during night hours. But I personally would not recommend to rush to the pharmacy for a jar of melatonin. After all, we can help it develop itself with the help of delicious food with a complete absence of side effects that the drug may face from the pharmacy. What could be easier!

Some articles in Danish women's magazines recommend eating rice biscuits, white bread, white rice and even donates before bedtime (!). The list lacked only biscuit cake ... But, apparently, the authors remembered what they were writing for the fitness magazine, and decided not to mention the cake. Like, studies have proven that food with a high glycemic index reduces the time of falling asleep. But if you think logically, then such advice will only harm the night’s sleep and the figure with health.

Maybe this kind of food will allow you to quickly fall asleep, but the quality of the night’s sleep will suffer because of the lowered blood sugar levels. Therefore, cakes, white bread, donuts, dried fruits and chocolates, alas, are canceled. Instead, I offer healthy alternatives that provide you with the necessary carbohydrates, but do not bring down the level of sugar in the blood.

So, the top 10 foods for dinner:

  • Plain Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes (rich in potassium, calcium, phosphorus and beta carotene)
  • Brown rice
  • Red rice
  • Corn
  • Whole grain pasta (not to be confused with durum wheat)
  • Buckwheat
  • Whole Grain Rice Noodles
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Roasted root vegetables (carrots, beets, celery root, etc.) - their glycemic index increases after cooking in the oven

Everything is so simple. True, there are some rules how to combine these products with the rest. I do not suggest you eat for dinner a plate of rice or pasta unaccompanied. Still, I promote healthy eating. And empty macaroni with cheese or potatoes and butter do not meet the canons of proper nutrition, even if they help you fall asleep faster.

In order not to confuse you completely, here is a simple tip: the amount of these products on your plate should be 1/3. No more, no less.

Using my favorite principle of dividing the dish, in practice it will look like this:

Dinner for a good sleep

The rules for categorizing products are simple. About them you can read here.

In practice, this will mean that 1/3 of your diet should be cereals, potatoes, corn, pasta and bread, 1/3 - vegetables in various combinations, 1/6 - protein foods (meat, chicken, fish, seafood, legumes ) and 1/6 more - fats (vegetable oil, nuts, sunflower seeds).

This combination will be ideal for good sleep, and for the figure, and for health.

Here are examples of dishes that correspond to a sort of plate separation:

All recipes are fairly simple in execution, and if you do not have enough time, you can cook immediately for 2-3 days in advance. If your refrigerator is serviceable, then it is quite possible to eat heated food. However, it should be heated no more than 1 time, while stirring well, so that the dish warms up completely.

I hope that these principles of nutrition will come to your liking, and your dream will only get better.

In the next article, which will be released in a week, I will talk about other nutritional principles that will help you improve sleep and increase energy levels.

Good health to you!

P.S. If you need an individual consultation - contact us! Details - here.

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practicing nutritionist-nutritionist. The creator of the Internet project "Food for Life!". She was educated in Copenhagen on the basis of the international school of nutritional medicine Functional Medicine, which works on the principle of "Treat a person, not a disease." In practice, this means that I work not only with nutrition, ...

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