1) Drinking too much caffeine later in the day.
This really only applies to people that are caffeine sensitive. If you find coffee really perks you up you might find it best to stop drinking the stuff by 2pm each day. Drinking coffee after that will leave caffeine still pumping in your system in the evening and may make falling asleep harder.
2) Drinking too much alcohol
Many people feel a few drinks before bed helps them to unwind but what it is actually doing is making it harder to get a DEEP sleep. Sure you might fall asleep faster but you will not get into the deeper levels of sleep and as a result will not be as well rested.
3) Eating too much before bed
A snack is rarely a problem but a large snack or small meal will put a lot of pressure on your gut while you sleep. The moment you lay down with all that food in your belly it can press back up on your throat causing heart burn, reflux and major discomfort while you are in bed. So keep it light.
4) Drinking too much water before bed
Hydrating is important but if you are finding you frequently wake up in the middle of the night to use the washroom, you may want to try to keep most of your water drinking earlier in the day and limit how much you have after dinner.
Now that we have those out of the way let's talk about the foods that the National Sleep Foundation found were helpful for sleep and not so helpful for sleep. Let's start with the not so good. Remember, these foods are not necessarily bad or unhealthy they may just not be great choices right before bed. What the evidence currently shows is that high fat foods, chips, popcorn and raw vegetables all may make sleeping more challenging for some people.
Again, let me emphasize that this is a guide for people that might be struggling to fall asleep. If you are able to eat these foods and still get a restful nights sleep by all means go ahead and continue eating them. I know for a fact many of my clients choose low fat popcorn as a crunchy snack before bed without issue. If you are having challenges though you might want to consider switching things up with some of the suggestions below. Now for the foods the sleep institute does recommend. According to the research there is some evidence that small amounts of dairy and bread products can be helpful for better sleep.
It does make sense as the best snacks usually are a combination of foods containing carbohydrates (like fruits, grains or dairy) and protein (such as meats, cheese, eggs or nuts). So here are a couple of snacks you might want to try:
- Low fat cheese and crackers
- Cereal with milk
- Nut butter on toast
Overall I would say breaking the bad habits I listed in the first part of this post are more important than the specifics of the snacks you choose at night. Still, you might find switching up your snack choices make a difference. It never hurts to experiment for better health.
For more great tips to get better sleep check out the National Sleep Foundation's Sleep.Org website.