Some of the best foods to eat at night before bed are actually quite surprising.
Some think eating before bed will make you gain weight but the truth is there are foods that are good to eat.
It’s a myth you shouldn’t eat anything before because it could cause you to gain weight.
Of course, there are some foods out there you should stay away from at night. They could disrupt your sleep and lead to weight gain.
Getting enough quality sleep is critical. Your health, quality of life and weight all depend on it.
There are many health benefits of getting enough quality sleep. There are also consequences for not getting enough of it.
The consequences include increased cortisol, weight gain, brain fog and a weakened immune system.
I’m sure you’ll agree it can be hard figuring out what you should be eating before bed to optimize your sleeping.
Once you start eating more of the foods below you’ll be able to sleep better. Then you can have more energy and keep losing weight.
Keep reading to discover the best foods to eat before bed as well as some of the foods you should stay away from.
Table of Contents
Exactly What To Eat Before Bed
Turkey is the most well known natural “sleep enhancing” food.
We’ve all know what it’s like to feel sleepy after eating a lot of turkey on Thanksgiving dinner.
The high amount of tryptophan in turkey is the big reason why it’ll help you fall asleep quicker.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that has been found to increase the production of the sleep-enhancing hormone melatonin in your body.
Tryptophan has been proven by research to help produce the feel good hormone serotonin in your body.
Turkey is also quite high in protein as it’s much needed to help regulate your appetite and build lean muscle.
Try throwing in some turkey in your dinner before bed to enhance how quickly you’re able to fall asleep.
Tart Cherry Juice
I bet you couldn’t guess this one made the list.
Tart cherry juice is a natural source of melatonin. Melatonin is a natural sleep aid as it helps to regulate your internal clock.
It signals your body to prepare for sleep. Drinking a cup of tart cherry juice before bed tastes pretty darn good.
This study found drinking tart cherry juice helped older adults struggling with insomnia.
Adults with insomnia in this study who drank 8 oz. of tart cherry juice twice a day slept an hour and a half longer. They also reported having better sleep quality than the group that didn’t drink any.
Tart cherry juice is becoming popular with athletes as well for a recovery drink. This study found athletes who drank it were able to recover faster.
Better recovery means better results.
One of my favorite snacks to have before bed is a couple spoonfuls of almond butter.
It’s higher good fat content will leave you feeling full so you can sleep better without any of the hunger pains.
Almond butter is also a good source of melatonin. We already talked about how effective melatonin is for helping you fall asleep, and almond butter is awesome for it.
Almond butter contains a good amount of magnesium. Magnesium has been found to reduce inflammation and improve sleep quality.
Even this study found rats fed almond extract were able to sleep longer and more deeply than those without it.
Try eating a couple spoonfuls of almond butter next time you’re about to go to sleep.
If you’re having trouble sleeping then you might want to try eating a little bit of avocado before bed.
Avocados have four powerful ingredients to help you fall asleep faster:
- omega-3 fatty acids
Avocados are high in magnesium with 58 mg which equates to about 15% your daily needs.
They’re also rather high in tryptophan, which is a natural precursor to melatonin production.
Deficiency in folate has been linked to depression and mood disorders which can lead to insomnia.
Avocados are one of my favorite mood-boosting foods that are delicious and fantastic before bed.
When I was a little kid I remember my Grandma would make me a warm glass of milk before bed.
I would sleep like a baby all night.
The reason milk helps you fall asleep faster is it contains tryptophan.
As we age our production of melatonin decreases. This can have a negative impact on our sleep quality.
This study found milk helped to improve sleep quality in the elderly when combined with melatonin.
Another study found milk combined with exercise improved the quality of sleep of the participants.
But if you have an intolerance to milk then it’s best to stay away. I always try to drink a whole fat milk from grass-fed cows.
For more on whole milk vs. skim milk see my dedicated blog post.
Jasmine rice is higher on the glycemic index (GI), which can surprisingly help you fall asleep faster.
Your body will digest it slower allowing a gradual release of glucose into your bloodstream.
Jasmine rice has a high glycemic index rating because it has high carb content and lacks fiber.
This 2007 study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found those who consumed jasmine rice four hours before bedtime fell asleep in half the time.
The researchers found the high-GI jasmine rice provided more insulin while increasing the amount of tryptophan to the participant’s brains.
But if you’re focusing on losing weight then jasmine rice before bed will not be the best option for you.
Kiwis are surprisingly a very powerful sleep enhancing fruit.
A kiwi may only have 50 calories but it’s packed to the brim with vitamin C and K.
Kiwis contain serotonin, which is a chemical in your brain that helps regulate your sleep cycles.
The vitamin C and carotenoids in kiwis will help to lower the inflammation in your body too.
This 4-week study found those who consumed 2 kiwis before bed fell asleep 42% quicker than not eating anything.
Another study found participants who ate kiwis were able to sleep better throughout the night. Their total sleep time increasing by 13%.
Try eating a kiwi or two before bed next time you’re craving something sweet before bed.
Wild-caught salmon is one of my favorite fish for weight loss.
It has a high vitamin D content with a 3.5 oz. serving giving you more than 50% of your daily requirements.
Wild salmon is an incredible natural source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s have been known to reduce inflammation while protecting against heart disease.
The study found the combination of vitamin D and omega-3s helped to increase sleep quality. Combined together they help to increase the production of serotonin.
This 2014 study in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found those who ate Atlantic salmon three times a week fell asleep 10 minutes faster than those eating chicken.
Just make sure you stay away from farmed salmon as it contains significantly lower amounts of omega-3s and other nutrients.
Try to add wild-caught salmon to your dinner menu at least once a week.
The flavones in chamomile tea will help to lower inflammation in your body. Flavones are a class of antioxidants hard to find in most foods.
Apigenin is the main antioxidant in chamomile tea. It can help promote sleepiness while reducing insomnia.
Chamomile tea is used frequently to boost the immune system, lower anxiety and fight depression.
Traditional use of chamomile tea has been as a mild sedative for those trouble sleeping.
Many people suffering from anxiety or depression have trouble falling asleep.
This study found those who drank chamomile tea fell into a deep sleep shortly afterward.
If you’re having trouble sleeping then try brewing a cup of chamomile tea an hour before bedtime.
Kale ranks at the top of my superfoods list as it’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.
Kale is very high in magnesium and calcium along with a lot of other powerful nutrients.
Magnesium is a well-known mineral for improving sleep quality and it’s a natural relaxant.
So much so it’s often referred to as the “sleep mineral.”
If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night then it could be from a calcium deficiency. Calcium-rich diets have been found to help fight insomnia.
Next time you’re cooking dinner try frying up some kale to help you fall asleep quicker.
Bad Foods To Eat Before Bed
It goes without saying you should limit your caffeine consumption before bed time.
I recommend quitting caffeine today at lunch time as it can stay in your system of 8 hours.
If you’re high on caffeine all afternoon then it can have a negative impact on your sleep quality.
There are many benefits to drinking coffee, but when sleep isn’t one of them.
Keep your intake to 200-300 mg per day and stay away from it later in the day.
Drinking alcohol before bed can negatively impact your sleeping patterns.
Drinking too much alcohol before bed can keep you from reaching a deep sleep.
Alcohol metabolizes quickly in your body which can cause you to wake up multiple times per night.
Even if you sleep a lot after too much drinking it’s easy to find yourself tired the next morning.
Alcohol and weight loss do not go well together. There are some alcoholic drinks that limit your damage.
High Fat Foods
The big reason you’ll want to stay away from high-fat foods before bed is it increases the production of acid in your stomach.
This can start creeping its way up into your esophagus giving you bad acid reflux.
If you’ve ever tried to sleep with bad acid reflux you’ll know what I mean.
Eating too much fat before bed can also screw with your production of orexin.
This is a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate your sleep cycles.
Try to also not eat too much protein before bed as well. Your body has to work harder to digest protein than other foods.
This can make it hard for you to fall asleep easier if your body is working hard to digest its food.
Here’s a list of good fats you should be eating to help lose more weight.
Too Much Water
You’ll, of course, want to be well hydrated throughout the day, but drinking too much water before bed can be a bad idea.
We all know what it’s like having to wake up multiple times in the night because we drank too much water.
This ends up disrupting your sleep cycles and can leave you feeling tired the next day.
Also, try to stay away from high water foods such as celery and watermelon before bedtime.
Now I love spicy foods as much as the next person, but it’s a good idea to limit them before bed.
There are a lot of benefits to eating spicy foods. Yet, improving the quality of your sleep isn’t one of them.
Cayenne pepper helps with weight loss and should be a part of your diet as long as your body reacts well to it.
The top 10 best foods to eat before bed are best consumed 2-3 hours before sleeping.
Eating any food too close to bedtime can make it hard to fall asleep as your body works to digest it.
Of course, going to sleep hungry can be bad news as well. If you’re starving in bed then you won’t be able to get the deep quality sleep you need.
Instead, try eating some of the best foods before bed to help you fall asleep and lose weight too.
If you need a little more help try taking some CBD oil to improve the quality of your sleep.
Leave a comment below with your favorite food to eat before bedtime that helps you sleep. Anything I left off the list?
Josh holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He’s worked as a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the high school and college level. He has over 10 years experience as a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He is also the author of The Flat Belly Formula. He hopes to be able to bring inspiration & results to people all over the world to live a healthier life through diet & exercise.