Do you find yourself getting hungry in the evening and have no idea what to eat? Or do you eat in the evening and get heartburn and disturbed sleep? Eating late is undoubtedly going to disturb your sleep, but if you are still in an energy deficit state, then you aren’t going to get a good rest either.
Essentially what you want to stay away from most of the fast energy releasing food which are High Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load, and try and eat something that is both not too difficult to digest but also doesn’t interfere chemically with sleep. This almost sounds like a contradiction, but there are some foods that you can have before in the evening. Eating Low Glycemic foods has been shown to be beneficial for many reasons in studies anyway, so should be a good guide for what to eat at all times, unless you are in dire of need of energy immediately.
One rule to follow however is that you really shouldn’t eat 2-3 hours before you sleep, so if you are sleeping at 12 like most, you don’t want to make 9pm the last moment you leave to prepare something to eat.
Another rule that you should follow, is to make sure you prepare the bulk of your calorie intake for earlier in the day, as you don’t want to heavy-load your body with calories just before sleep.
Dehydration can cause a lot of hunger pains in the evening, and people might remember to hydrate often throughout the day, but leave off in the evening as they worry about getting up in the night to go to the toilet, water should make it through your system pretty quickly, and so you should keep hydrated well in the evening just as in the hot afternoon, as it will both curb some of your hunger cravings and regulate your system better.
A supposedly sleep inducing snack, strangely it might seem. Mainly not because it contains tryptophan which has been incorrectly labelled as increasing serotonin levels and induces sleep, but because it’s a source of low calorie protein that combined with the carbohydrate of whole wheat bread and your earlier carbohydrate heavier meal will help promote better sleep. Many guides incorrectly label Turkey as being sleep inducing because of trytophan and Chicken as not, when Chicken actually has slightly more tryptophan in it.
Fruit and Nuts
These are both good types of foods to have in the evening, as they are slow releasing and extremely nutritious, and many promote the chemicals that relax you and help you sleep. Examples are Cherries, Almonds, Bananas, Flaxseeds.
Cereal & Milk
It might be strange to have your morning cereal in the evening also, but cereal with milk can be a good snack to help fill you up without disturbing your sleep. The old wives tale of a hot glass of milk to get sleep has some truth in it after all.
Rice, Fish and Veg
You can make a good evening snack by having a small bowl of basmati rice with tuna/salmon and some steamed kale, not only a healthy choice for eating, but these 3 help promote sleep also.
This cinema favorite snack is a fairly healthy choice as long as you don’t get a brand overloaded with sugar, make sure you eat a sensible portion and popcorn can be a good snack to have in the evening.
Lacking caffeine makes camomile a good tea to have in the evening and relax with.
What to Avoid
Avoid caffeine, so don’t have coffee or caffeinated tea in the evening. Wine should also be avoided, being drunk doesn’t induce quality sleep, just drunk bad sleep and a hangover. Avoid high calorie snacks for the evening, especially high calorie sugar snacks, that aren’t complex carbohydrate. So basically avoid burgers and cookies and all the junk food that isn’t going to help you sleep, but that should be fairly obvious.
Ultimately food and diet are a complex topic, and often many studies contradict each other, just pick up any publication on diet, and they’ll usually go through phases of saying something is terrible for you, then suddenly saying it’s a miracle food. Everyone reacts differently to food, and have a a different tolerance and reaction to the chemicals released during digestion. Essentially you need to work out for yourself what is best to eat in the evening, and this article is only a start in giving you some ideas in what to have. Use common sense and experience different food to trial and test for yourself. That is the best way forward to being healthier and getting good sleep.Become an expert yourself, and don’t just read the article and follow it, try to understand food and what is happening when you digest and then try to sleep. Once you have found the right food for yourself, stick to it as a routine, nearly everyone is similar in how routine helps our bodies deal with life better, it’s about the only point here that isn’t debatable.