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WSJ: Insomnia – Foods to avoid at bedtime

Is Bedtime Snacking Bad?

The Binge Bulge

Eating after 8 p.m. may increase the risk of obesity, according to a 2011 study at Northwestern University. A five-year study on weight changes in college students which Dr. Hoerr is working on also suggests that eating late disrupts sleep patterns. “Our data shows that those who got the most sleep were more likely to maintain a healthy weight,” she says. Researchers still don’t know all the reasons why poor sleep is correlated to weight gain.

Bad Snacks vs. Good Snacks

Specific foods, she says, interfere with sleep. Avoid anything high in tyramine, a naturally occurring chemical that helps regulate blood pressure and can keep you awake, at least an hour or two before bedtime, says Dr. Hoerr. This includes aged cheeses, processed meats and soy sauce. High-protein and fatty treats should also be avoided because they take longer to digest. The good news: Some foods, when eaten in small amounts (under 200 calories), may actually aid in quality sleep, and not add inches to the waistline. Unprocessed turkey and nonfat milk are both high in the amino acid tryptophan, which can be converted to serotonin and melatonin—neurotransmitters that help promote good shut-eye. Foods high in the minerals magnesium (almonds – but not too much as they contain tyramine), potassium (bananas) and calcium (low-fat yogurt) encourage muscle relaxation, and are OK to eat before bedtime. “The glucose in honey is easily digestible and comforting, which explains why a warm cup of milk sweetened with honey might be an ideal bedtime snack,” says Dr. Hoerr.

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