I know everyone raves about breakfast in bed, but let me be the first to say that dessert in bed is highly, highly underrated. On this week’s episode of You Versus Food, host and dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, says that there’s absolutely a healthy way to choose what to eat before bed so you go to sleep feeling satisfied and—in my case—dreaming of chocolate chia seed pudding.
“A question I get asked a lot is, ‘Is it bad to eat late at night?’ Well, today we’ll dive into this quandary and I’ll give you some tips about what to eat if you do opt for a pre-slumber snack,” says Beckerman at the top of the episode. According to Beckerman, a larger pre-sleep snack may upset your stomach, disrupt your sleeping patterns (or circadian rhythm), and even minimize the quality of rest you get from your eight hours.
“When you lie down, you lose the gravity you need to keep the food you’ve eaten moving from top to bottom,” adds Beckerman. “The esophageal sphincter, the valve closing your stomach from your throat, may not close completely as a result. This causes some of your stomach acids to move upward, causing some of that oh-so-painful heartburn.”
That’s not to say that a bedtime snack is always a bad idea. In fact, the right kind of snack may act as a sleeping potion of sorts that lulls you softly into your dream world. “If you’re someone who struggles with glucose control, are often awoken by hunger pains, or are trying to increase your muscle mass, sometimes a late-night snack can be a good thing,” says Beckerman. In general, she recommends keeping it small, at about 200 calories. “If you can incorporate protein, it can help repair and rebuild muscles in need of a tune-up thanks to the release of human growth hormone while you snooze,” adds Beckerman. Below, find two snacks that fit the bill.
Still hungry? Here’s what to eat before bed, according to an RD
1. Peanut butter and banana
“Bananas are high in potassium and magnesium, which can help your muscles relax. Eating carbohydrates with a banana with tryptophan, found in nut butter, can make the amino acids more available to the brain, and may increase your ability to sleep—so this treat is a sleep-aid wonder,” says Beckerman. Yet another reason why these two ingredients are literally a dream team.
2. Greek yogurt
If you want to keep things super simple before you call it a night, plain Greek yogurt is going to hit the spot. “Plain Greek yogurt is filled with many properties that can positively impact your sleep. For starters, it’s a high-protein food that’s low in sugar and filled with probiotics. The protein will help keep you full at night and probiotics can help improve sleep quality,” says Beckerman.
To hear about even more of Beckerman’s go-to somnolent snacks, watch the full video. (Spoiler: Chia pudding is on the table.)