Will you sleep better after a bedtime snack?

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

midnight snack
If you’re tired of… well… being tired from midnight snacking, eat a small snack a few hours before bedtime. It can prevent you from being hungry later.

If you’ve ever woken up hungry, tip-toeing across the cold kitchen tiles for a midnight snack from that glowing fridge, you may have wished you’d eaten before bedtime. After all, who wants to interrupt their dreams because of a rumbling belly? Well, current research has good news for you: eating a little snack a few hours before you knock out on that pillow can help you get some much needed shuteye.

While you might have heard that warm milk or tea can help you doze off, there’s no real evidence for this. There’s also rumors that protein-rich foods like peanut butter, crackers, and cheese have a chemical called trytophan that makes you sleepy.

While tryptophan does indeed make you tired, you need 15 grams of it to feel an effect – basically, it takes a pound of turkey to get 1 gram of the stuff, so you’d have to gobble up 15 pounds of gobble-gobble! Sure, it’d make you tired, but you would soon have a turkey neck of fat hanging below your chin from doing that.

So, what’s the real scientific advice for bedtime snacks? Well, the only influence a snack has is reducing the chances that you’ll become hungry enough for a midnight snack later.

There’s no real magic potion or special nutritional blend for deeper sleep. Instead, it’s more about avoiding foods that are spiced heavily, high in fat, and flavored like garlic. Also, don’t get any caffeine in your system via coffee or soda. For non-nutritional ways to have a good night’s sleep, get your body used to a regular sleep cycle by going to bed and waking up at the same time (yes, even on the weekends), exercising during the day, not napping too much in the afternoon, and avoiding electronic screens before bedtime (since they trick your brain into thinking its daytime).

Featured image courtesy of Lotzman Katzman on Flickr. Image of midnight snacking courtesy of krzyboy2o on Flickr.