Alaska Sleep Education Center

Midnight Snacks: 8 Foods That Can Improve Sleep

Posted by Jamie Benjamin on Apr 8, 2021 2:55:00 AM

Greedy happy woman found her delicious cake

As our lives become increasingly fast-paced and responsibilities compound, it’s no wonder that a significant percentage of our population suffers from a range of sleeping disorders. Studies suggest that the prevalence of insomnia nears the range of 60% in certain countries, with women who suffer from mental health disorders being the most likely candidates.

Thankfully, your sleep cycle is fairly easy to get back on track when you adjust various lifestyle factors. Other than exercise and general stress management, one of the most important factors to consider when wanting to re-establish a regular circadian rhythm is your diet.

Before exploring the various foods that assist in deep and restful sleep, it’s important to note the times at which you should consume these. Medical experts advise against eating shortly before going to bed, as this may result in acid reflux that will decrease your quality of sleep. Ideally, your dinner should be light, and you should not consume food after 6pm.

Of course, this is not a realistic goal for everyone. Therefore, we would encourage you to do the best that you can—a small change will make a notable difference to your quality of life. Besides, if you are going to have a midnight snack, it’s worth knowing what to snack on.

Kiwi Fruit

This fruit boasts an array of potent nutrients that aid in the process of sleep. Kiwi fruit is full of melatonin, potassium, calcium, magnesium, folate, anthocyanins, flavonoids, and carotenoids.

Studies have determined the efficacy of kiwi consumption in the promotion of restful sleep, and the results are compelling. Data suggests that those that consumed a kiwifruit one hour before going to bed for four weeks experienced improved sleep quality, while also remaining asleep for a longer period of time.    

Nuts

Nuts, almonds, and walnuts are popular for their dense nutritional content. Almonds contain tryptophan and magnesium which relax muscles, calm neural signals, and regulate your heartbeat. These are all mechanisms that, on a subconscious level, signal to your body that it’s time to rest.

The same goes for walnuts, as they contain similarly beneficial compounds namely, melatonin, serotonin, and magnesium. A handful of either of these nuts will have you drifting into the land of sweet dreams in no time at all.

Rice

Although there’s some dispute regarding the connection between carbohydrates and sleep, there’s evidence to suggest that the consumption of rice is beneficial in aiding rest. A study that was conducted in Japan reported that those who consumed rice, white rice in particular, experienced a greater quality of sleep than those who regularly ate bread or noodles.

There is further research to support the notion that consuming foods with a high glycemic index four hours before going to bed helps you to sleep more deeply.

Warm Milk

This already-popular night-time drink has proven to bolster your quality of sleep. Although milk contains melatonin, vitamin D, calcium, and tryptophan; its efficacy as a sleep-enhancer is largely due to its associations with childhood and the feelings of comfort and safety that come with that.

If you’re not someone who enjoys a tall glass of milk in the evening, try adding it to a cup of non-caffeinated tea that you can drink in bed.

Fatty Fish

Of all the foods that aid in sleep, fatty fish remains amongst the most popular recommendations by medical professionals. It’s packed with both vitamin D and omega-3 fats—both nutrients that are vital in the process of serotonin production. Omega-3 regulates your heart rate, while serotonin plays an essential role in supporting a regular circadian rhythm and overall feelings of happiness.

Studies have proven that those who regularly eat fatty fish sleep better overall than those who routinely eat pork, beef, or chicken for dinner. It’s beneficial to eat fatty fish in the winter months, as this is when your overall vitamin D levels are significantly lower.

Barley Grass Powder

This food delivers a potent combination of several compounds that promote healthy sleep. These include gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc, and tryptophan. The aforementioned elements interact to enhance various components of your overall health, which naturally allows for a restful sleep cycle to fall into place.

As this superfood comes in a powdered form, you can disguise it in an array of meals. You can blend it into your smoothies, soups, and curries or even into the dressing for your evening salad. If you wish, you can even stir a spoonful into a glass of water and drink that before going to bed for maximum efficacy.

Figs

If you thought figs could not get any better, think again. Not only do they contain high quantities of potassium, iron, magnesium, and calcium, but figs have a high fiber content too. This ensures that you feel full and satiated and won’t want to sneak in a second trip to the fridge after midnight.

Figs are naturally sweet. This makes them perfect for satisfying your post-dinner sweet tooth without overindulging in something that may well disturb your sleep, like chocolate or cheesecake.


Oatmeal

Although it remains a staple in many households, very few people are actually aware of the fact that oatmeal is an effective sleep-enhancer. It may be time to move your morning oats to a light evening meal to experience the full benefits of this simple yet incredibly healthy food source. You don’t have to eat oatmeal on its own either. There are plenty of healthy recipes that will make having this food for dinner an appealing option.

The grains in oats promote the production of hormones that are integral to your sleep cycle. Consuming oatmeal triggers insulin production which slowly raises your blood sugar levels, causing you to feel relaxed and tired. This food contains a high quantity of melatonin which promotes overall feelings of tranquility and therefore helps you to fall into a deep and uninterrupted sleep.

It’s clear that what you eat can influence the quality of sleep you enjoy. By changing your diet to eliminate the foods that negatively affect your sleep patterns or keep you awake to those that promote a good night’s sleep, you can do yourself and your body a favor.

Sometimes we all wake up wanting a little snack.  But, if you are constantly waking up throughout the night and feeling tired during the day, you may have a sleep disorder.  Take our sleep apnea quiz below or contact Alaska Sleep Clinic today @ 907-770-9104.

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Topics: Sleep Tips, snacking, foods

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