Sleep is a time for rest and regeneration, and your energy should go towards that. What and when you eat in the hours before going to bed can a significant impact on how you sleep. Ideally, you shouldn’t be going more than 3-4 hours without eating, so take a look at your day and plan accordingly, especially if you incorporate physical activity during the evening. The ideal nighttime snack combines carbohydrates and either calcium or protein. Snacks should be eaten approximately one hour before bedtime and should be light and easily digestible.
Healthy food to help you sleep better
- Fruit such as pineapple, mangoes, grapes or cherries. Cherries are also naturally high in melatonin and make a great frozen treat.
- Ice cream substitutes using frozen bananas sweetened with cacao or peanut butter.
- A small handful of nuts to help with that salty, crunchy craving.
- Fruit and yogurt.
- Protein balls.
- Herbal tea lightly sweetened with honey.
Tame your evening sweet tooth
I’m happy to share my version of a nut free chewy granola bar to help with your sweet craving, it's inspired by Holistic Nutritionist Arja Pennanen Lytle’s granola ball recipe. My family loves eating these bars. They are perfect for breakfast, a bedtime snack or even as a dessert. These bars are also packed with protein, fibre and healthy fats to help balance blood sugar. Pennanen Lytle notes that balanced blood sugar contributes to managing hunger, regulating mood and contributes to more restful sleep. No wonder I love this snack!
No Bake Chewy Granola Bar Recipe
- Two cups of quick cooking oats
- One cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries or cherries
- 1/4 cup of hemp seeds
- 1/2 cup of raw pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips
- One teaspoon of cinnamon
- 3/4 cup of brown rice syrup
- 1/2 cup of seed or soy butter (sunflower seed or soy butter work well, though you can also opt to use a nut butter)
- One tablespoon of maple syrup (optional)
Mix all ingredients thoroughly and spread into an ungreased 9×11 baking dish. Refrigerate for 1 hour and then slice into squares or rectangles.
There are many ways to adjust this recipe. You can make this a gluten free recipe by using gluten free oats or make it a dairy-free option by using dairy free chocolate chips. Mixing this with a spoon is a waste of time instead use your hands to ensure the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
Could your dinner be affecting your sleep?
If you don’t find yourself reaching for an evening snack, but still feel like digestive issues are impacting your sleep, then it might be time to take a look at what’s on your plate at dinner time. Avoid foods that are too fatty or cumbersome (think pizza, pasta, sandwiches and ice cream) as these foods take a lot of your body’s resources to digest them. Heavy foods can also lead to indigestion and heartburn making sleep difficult.
Other foods that could cause problems if you are eating them in the evening could include:
- spicy food that might raise body temperature;
- crucifers; red meat and protein bars that may take longer to digest; and
- dark chocolate as it contains caffeine.
Better Sleep Tip: Make an evening food log and track what you eat and how you sleep. Or better yet, download the one I made for you below! Look for trends to spot difficulty initiating sleep and night wakings. Avoid suspected “problem” foods from your diet after 6:00 PM.