Best Snacks for a Good Night’s Sleep

Gloria Tsang newWritten by Canadian Lentils Dietitian Gloria Tsang, RD

Best Snacks for a Good Night’s Sleep

Spring is upon us and now is the perfect time to think about the quantity and quality of your sleep. Odds are, you’re not getting enough. Most Canadians get far less than the recommended 7-9 hours a night, and that lack of sleep can have an impact in just about every area of your life – from performance at work to relationships with your family, and even your ability to maintain a healthy weight. If you’re having trouble getting the sleep you need, rather than popping a pill, you can help your body relax and ease into sleep with some simple combinations of foods.

Everyone’s heard of tryptophan – an amino acid most commonly associated with post-Thanksgiving-turkey naps. But tryptophan is actually found in many protein-rich foods including lentils, and complex carbohydrates work with your metabolism to allow the tryptophan to work most effectively to help you sleep.

Here are some top picks for evening snack combinations that include both tryptophan and complex carbohydrates to help your body prepare for a good night’s rest.

Top Evening Snacks for Better Sleep

  • Six whole grain crackers with one ounce of mozzarella cheese
  • Half a whole grain English muffin with two tablespoons of 5 Minute Lentil Hummus
  • One small bran muffin with a cup of milk or a handful of peanuts, cashews, or almonds
  • Build your own easy parfait with rolled oats, split red lentils, hemp and pumpkin seeds, yogurt and more. Try Sprouted Lentil Granola Parfait.
  • One slice of whole wheat bread or half a whole grain pita with two ounces of sliced turkey breast (not deli slices) or egg salad

In general, to ensure the best sleep possible, you should avoid caffeine after lunch time – plus cut out late-night sweets, which can cause your blood sugar to drop at night, interrupting your rest.

Here are a few foods to avoid eating shortly before bed time:

  • Caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea or sugary drinks. Caffeine is a stimulant of the central nervous system and will prevent you from having a good night’s rest.
  • Fermented or aged foods like cheese, cured meat and sauerkraut. Naturally occurring in food, tyramine is thought to cause headaches in some individuals. This will definitely keep you up at night. In addition, tyramine has been shown to increase adrenalin (a stimulant) in the body. This can even lead to a slight increase in alertness, blood pressure or even your heart rate.