If you’re prone to the midnight munchies, you’re not alone. But did you know certain foods can interrupt a good night’s rest, while others can promote better slumber? With a huge 77 per cent of us not getting sufficient hours each night, it’s an issue that could make a difference for how good we feel day-to-day.
We present the 8 best bedtime snacks, courtesy of Neil Robinson, sleep expert from bed manufacturers Sealy UK. And no, nightmare-inducing cheese on toast isn’t on there…
‘These may help you battle insomnia due to their naturally high amount of the amino acid tryptophan,’ says Robinson. ‘In addition, they contain high levels of magnesium and potassium which work to relax the muscles.’
For a light pre-bed snack, grab a handful of almonds – yes, really. ‘Like bananas, almonds contain both tryptophan and muscle-relaxant magnesium. What’s more, their high protein content will keep you feeling full all night.’
Bedtime porridge could be a thing: ‘Oats are great for keeping your heart healthy and contain a wide array of vitamins and minerals that collectively work to support relaxation. As a natural source of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleeping and waking cycles, oats can help you drift off into a peaceful sleep,’ says Robinson.
They’re also high in melatonin – plus, of course, they’re delicious. ‘Cherries also contain antioxidants like anthocyanins, which work alongside melatonin to help you maintain a deeper sleep for longer.’
5 Peanut butter
Peanuts contain niacin, a form of vitamin B3 which aids the production of serotonin, the hormone responsible for our moods, says Robinson. They’re also rich in good fats that help keep you fuller for longer – hopefully stopping you from waking up hungry in the night, and raiding the fridge.
6 Warm milk
A bedtime classic for a reason. ‘Milk is rich in the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan. And the warmth will provide a calming effect that often results in you getting to sleep faster. What’s more, the high calcium content of milk regulates the production of melatonin.’
7 Chamomile tea
Peter Rabbit’s night-cap, courtesy of his mother: ‘Chamomile tea increases the levels of amino acid glycine in the body, which causes our muscles to relax. Additionally, the anti-anxiety effects of glycine mean that chamomile tea is excellent for calming any stressful thoughts that affect our ability to get to sleep.’ Try chamomile tea with a teaspoon of honey for a sweet treat.
Not just for breakfast, apparently. ‘Due to its high magnesium content, avocado could be what you need to drift off to sleep,’ claims Robinson. ‘Research shows that magnesium decreases levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone” which can increase irritability and harm quality of sleep,’ he adds.
Want to read more? Discover 7 simple trick to help you sleep well tonight in the latest September issue of Healthy magazine.
8 foods to help you sleep better
If you're like us you might find your self seeking a snack at bedtime. If you're going to snack, go for the healthy option that also helps you get sleep.
Healthy is the UK’s top-selling wellbeing magazine, brought to you by Holland & Barrett. We produce eight issues a year, packed with the latest expert health, psychology, beauty, food and fitness stories – everything you need to live a healthier life.