Being hungry after dinner… trust me.. we’ve all been there. Whether it’s that kebab on the way home from your boozy dinner, raiding the pantry for something sweet while you watch MAFS, eating late at night is super common – even though most of us are aware it’s.. Uh.. less than ideal for our sleep.
However – I truly believe that most of us also don’t recognise how bad it is for sleep. And so you’re across it, as you may have read in this previous SWW article, a 2011 clinical trial revealed that eating dinner an hour before bed can increase the time it takes you to fall asleep by a whopping 47 per cent.
Especially as this study was comparing the impact of the exact same meal eaten four hours before bed, it’s important to appreciate how significant this stat is. See, with this study design, we can be sure that this increase wasn’t due to changes in the meal itself (e.g. if it had more sugar); but rather, it could be attributed specifically to meal timing.
Alas, you can see, eating late is extremely problematic for your sleep, and in particular, compromises your ability to fall asleep with ease.
1. Hungry after dinner? Try fatty fish
Not your usual go-to I’m sure, however, if you are truly hungry, you won’t be fussy. And, by eating salmon or tuna, you get a strong dose of sleep supportive nutrients. First, fatty fish are rich in amino acid tryptophan, the building block of melatonin. Second, vitamin D, another co-factor in melatonin synthesis. Third, omega 3s, which streamline the production of the sleepiness hormone too.
As noted in my book, Bear, Lion, Wolf, a 2017 study by the University of Pennsylvania found that the more fish participants ate, the fewer nighttime disturbances they experienced – melatonin doesn’t just help us fall asleep, it also helps us stay asleep.
2. Try a banana
Carbs just before bed… am I crazy?! Stay with me! In order to synthesise melatonin, your brain requires carbohydrates. And, especially for keto and low carb diets, it’s possible that you may not have enough carbs to do so.
If this may be the case, the humble banana smoothie will help you – milk, banana and ice. Bananas also provide magnesium – a natural muscle relaxant; and vitamin B6, a micronutrient that supports melatonin production too.
And, make it extra sleep friendly by adding a scoop of protein – hungry at night no more!
3. Try two kiwifruit
My last suggestion for when you’re hungry after dinner (for now). And, I know it seems rather specific to advise two rather than one kiwifruit; but hear me out. A 2011 study by Taipei Medical University found that by eating two kiwifruit per night, over the course of 14 nights, improved sleep quality by a staggering 42%.
Further to that, there was a 35% reduction in their time taken to fall asleep.
Again – gamechanger!
The reason why kiwi’s are so powerful for sleep is two fold. First, they are naturally rich in serotonin, the happiness hormone which in darkness, is converted to melatonin. Second, they are abundant in vitamin C – another micronutrient to support deeper sleep.
So – as you can see, late night snacks don’t have to sabotage your sleep. You can be hungry at night, satisfy your needs and still sleep well. Now that you have this advice, I recommend putting this into my sleep goal tracker – so you can sleep better tonight, tomorrow any many nights to come.
PS – if you want a full day of a sleep friendly diet, check out this article here.
PPS – I am proud to say that the sources for the research above are found within my very own book Bear, Lion or Wolf. If you haven’t already, get your copy now!
This article originally appeared on Body and Soul