Not all evening snacks are equally beneficial for your night’s sleep. We’ve all heard that warm milk is soporific. Are there really foods that contain substances to stimulate sleep? If you are still hungry in the evening and you do not want to lie in bed with a growling stomach, it is best to have a sleep snack that contains slow carbohydrates and little fat. It is also not good to go to sleep with a full stomach.
If you’re hungry in the evening
If you are not tired enough to go to bed in the evening, and you are even a little hungry, you can have an evening snack that will stimulate the sleep hormones. There are many foods that naturally contain calming substances that trigger sleep-inducing hormones in your brain. It doesn’t hurt to eat something in the evening, but you have to be careful that you choose the right snack.
Eat something that is easily digestible
Lying awake with a rumbling stomach is not pleasant and it can prevent you from continuing to sleep. Eating something light before going to bed can prevent this. If you have eaten too little, your blood sugar level may become very low. That can cause you to wake up a few hours later. A small snack before bedtime can prevent this.
Drinking warm milk before bedtime helps you fall asleep. But if you don’t like this or prefer something heartier, you can also do the following: put a tablespoon of oatmeal in a saucepan and let it soak in a little milk for about an hour. Then add a large glass of milk and slowly bring to the boil while stirring until it thickens. Pour it back into the glass and add a spoonful of honey with some nutmeg.
Other sleep-promoting snacks
If you opt for an evening snack, it is better to choose something that is high in carbohydrates and low in fat. For example, it is good to eat a banana, because it digests slowly and ensures that sleep hormones are released later in the night. If you consume a lot of complex carbohydrates, with a little protein, and some calcium, it helps the brain to relax. This ensures that the substance tryptophan can produce the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. All these nutrients are found in a bowl of oatmeal porridge. After eating this, your melatonin level will increase after about forty minutes and you will be prepared for a good and deep sleep.
What you should avoid
Avoid foods that only contain carbohydrates, especially the so-called fast carbohydrates (wrong sugars) such as sweets, cookies and pastries. These foods lack the sleep-inducing effect of tryptophan and cause your blood sugar level to plummet sharply after it rises, causing stress hormones to be released instead of sleep hormones. Cheese, especially the riper types, contain the amino acid (protein) tyramine that unblocks adrenaline (stress hormone). This will stimulate your brain and can increase the likelihood of dreams and nightmares. Fat in food – including cheese – is difficult to digest, especially when you sleep. This is because digestion slows down during sleep.
The recipes below need about 45 minutes for their sleep-inducing substances to work and are therefore suitable as a sleep snack:
- Oatmeal cakes with honey
- Whole grain breakfast cereal with milk
- Toasted whole wheat bread with cottage cheese and pineapple
- Yogurt with strawberries
- Three stalks of celery with low-fat cheese spread (celery contains a mild natural sedative)
- Slices of banana with cheese spread
- Whole wheat roll with low-fat cream cheese and chopped dates
- A few crackers
- Hazelnuts and tofu
- Sandwich with peanut butter and ground sesame seeds
If you would like to drink something soporific with it, nothing beats a cup of warm milk with honey. If you find this too sweet, you can also add an anise cube to the milk instead of honey . Or you can make a milkshake from semi-skimmed or soy milk (soy contains tryptophan), strawberries and low-fat yogurt ice cream. If you are more of a tea lover, you can make your own herbal tea by adding half a teaspoon of lime blossom, lemon balm and lavender to a mug of boiling water. If necessary, add honey to taste.
If you ate late
You may have eaten later in the evening. Is it still worth having an evening snack? Be aware that you cannot sleep well on a full stomach. If you do feel the need to eat something, wait at least two hours after dinner. The sleep-inducing substance tryptophan works best on an empty stomach.
Drinking a drink can make it easier for you to fall asleep. In any case, it is not a suitable sleep snack. Alcohol blocks tryptophan, which cancels out all the sleep-inducing effects of your diet.
Sleep hormones as a supplement
Although they cannot replace a healthy diet, some experts say they can create a sleep-inducing effect. There are many supplements available, some of which are also available over the counter. Opinions about these supplements are divided, it is difficult to vouch for their effects.
L-Tryptophan is a tryptophan that is available in the form of a pill. It ensures that the level of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin increases. For more information about this supplement, please see: Dietary supplement Acytil L-Carnitine.
For example, you can use the supplement 5-HT (5-hydroxytryptamine). This comes from the seeds of a West African plant. This can be used if you suffer from insomnia due to anxiety.
There are also melatonin supplements. These are also recommended against jet lag. They can contribute to the presence of more melatonin in your body, which prevents insomnia.
- The effects of caffeine on your body
- The influence of stress on your night’s sleep
- The benefits of good sleep
- Responsible snacking in the evening
- Stimulants and their influence on sleep