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Snacking Before Sleep: the Myths and the Facts

Snacking Before Sleep: the Myths and the Facts

You have probably heard that eating too close to bed is bad -- but why? And is there a healthy way to do it? We are here to bust the common myths surrounding food and sleep, and to offer the healthiest ways to snack before you hit the sack. 

Myth: Your metabolism slows during sleep 

Ever heard that digestion slows down before sleep, and that’s why you shouldn’t eat late? Studies have shown that your metabolism works just as fast when you are awake or asleep, so when it comes to digestion, your body does fine at night.1 

Fact: Your sleep quality could suffer 

Eating causes fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which do have the potential to disturb your sleep. Melatonin (which is a key factor in helping you fall asleep), is only produced when cortisol levels are low. Cortisol can be released when blood sugar levels spike, which happens often after we eat a snack. It is also a hormone released as a stress response -- that is why having a balanced diet for both your body and mind is important for sleep.2

Myth: You gain more weight by eating late

The belief has been passed around that eating before bed will lead to increased weight - which isn’t necessarily true. If you eat a snack, it will affect your weight the same way no matter if you eat it day or night, calories are calories no matter what.3 Although, if you are consuming more calories than you can burn off due to late night snacking, this is what can be a culprits to weight gain. 

“It’s not about when you it, it’s about what you eat.”

- Registered Nurse and Nutritionist 

So what should you snack on? 

  • Bananas: a healthy snack with high levels of magnesium and potassium act as muscle relaxants, helping soothe you to sleep. 
  • Seeds or nuts: high in healthy omegas and protein, and low in carbs and sugar. 
  • Non-starchy vegetables: veggies like baby carrots, cherry tomatoes or cucumbers are low in calories, fats and carbs and high in nutrition.
  • Peanut butter: containing high protein and healthy fats. Spread it on an apple for extra deliciousness!4

And what should you avoid before bed?

  • Spicy foods: they may cause heartburn and make for an uncomfortable sleep
  • High sugar snacks: can cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate, disturbing rest. 
  • Caffeine & alcohol.5

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References 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/3378547/ 

https://bodyecology.com/articles/eat-before-bed/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425165/#B51-nutrients-07-02648

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324881.php

https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/bedtime-snacks-help-you-fall-asleep/

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