Choosing what to eat before going to bed plays an important role in the quality of sleep. Easily digestible foods should be favoured so that they do not promote indigestion during the sleep period. In addition, a bad night of sleep can interfere with our food choices the next day since being more tired, we tend to consume more energetic foods, often with poor nutritional quality.
Sleep patterns are controlled by a particular hormone called Melatonin, which, even though it is produced in the brain, is often controlled by diet. Its levels strongly depend on the amino acid Tryptophan, essential and for that reason, necessary to be obtained through the diet. In addition to this, we must pay attention to the intake of other micronutrients, such as B vitamins and Magnesium, which help the amount of Tryptophan present in the body.
Sleep deprivation has consequences on the level of two other hormones that are very important for dietary control: Reduction in Leptin levels and increase in Ghrelin levels. These phenomena promote an increase in the feeling of appetite and consequently an increase in food intake.
Some foods facilitate sleep, and others can be authentic enemies of a good night of sleep.
What are the best foods to introduce into our dinner, and which ones should we avoid?
• Milk and lean derivatives: Sources of Tryptophan, Calcium, and Protein of animal origin, satiating, low in saturated fat.
• Dried fruits: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, they promote satiety due to their fat content “good” and fibre and aids in muscle rebuilding that takes place during the night.
• Banana: With a good amount of Magnesium, can help the muscle recovery process, and it has Tryptophan with benefits already described above.
• Cooked egg whites (suggestion: white omelette with cinnamon) or Whey Protein, or Vegetable Protein: Promotes satiety and intervene in the muscle recovery process.
If you don’t usually have an appetite before going to bed, you can always opt for calming teas, which will help you relax and promote a good quality of sleep, like Valerian, Linden, Lemongrass, or Chamomile teas, which naturally help you to fall asleep and sleep more peacefully.
Foods to avoid:
• Stimulating Beverages: Coffee and beverages containing caffeine or theine (such as black tea); alcoholic drinks, energy drinks. This type of beverage has a stimulating effect on the brain, promoting awakening and difficulty falling asleep, thus impairing the quality of sleep.
• Foods with a high content of saturated fat (sausages, fried snacks, fatty dairy products) which, in addition to harming our cardiovascular health, can lead to difficult digestion, increasing the probability of feeling unwell during your rest.
• Food rich in sugar (sweets, sweets, pastries): along with foods with high levels of saturated fat in the food groups that harm our health are sweets. However, in addition, their intake at this time causes an increase in levels of energy, providing a greater tendency for difficulty falling asleep.
• Foods with high fibre content (whole grains, pulses, vegetables) that, despite being healthy, at this time may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, increasing flatulence, and abdominal cramps.
The quality of our sleep directly interferes with our well-being and in improving sports performance since it is during this period that we have a large part of our muscle recovery. It is also known that sleepless nights promote excessive tiredness and an increased need for foods richer in energy levels during the day, namely foods rich in sugar and fat.
In this sense, it is important to have a small meal before bedtime, thus promoting satiety and guaranteeing the necessary nutrients for your body in the recovery phase.