How to sleep: ‘You need to have something to eat’ if you are hungry before bed

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Getting into bed and then feeling a pang of hunger is irritating. It can cause you to struggle to sleep, or perhaps you have stuggled to sleep for so long you are now feeling hungry.

Should you get up for a snack or fight the feeling of hunger? Which option will help you to sleep?

Award-winning nutritional therapist Christine Bailey discussed this question with Express.co.uk.

She said: “We don’t want people to go to bed starving.”

Being hungry causes the release of a hormone that prevents sleep.

Christine said: “If you’re starving, and your blood glucose levels really dip then you’re going to start producing a lot of cortisol and cortisol, which is the stress hormone, will block melatonin.

“So you need to have something to eat, you don’t want to be starving but equally, don’t want to be over full.”

Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone and controls fear.

Cortisol increases when you feel stress, fear, anger, or some other sort of emotion caused by threat.

One a percieved threat has passed, cortisol should return to normal.

It is difficult to sleep when cortisol is high, and feeling very hungry causes cortisol to spike.

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Melatonin, on the other hand, is a hormone linked to controlling the sleep cycle.

It helps the body induce sleep, and melatonin is often taken as a dietery supplement by those experience sleeping issues.

Christine suggested stopping eating at a certain time before bed however, to sleep best.

She said: “For a lot of clients, I encourage them to do what’s called time-restricted eating.

“So, let’s try and get them to eat as early as possible but say by about 7:00pm so then you’re allowing at least, probably for a lot of clients, three to four hours without having lots of food sitting in your stomach.”

However, snacking on almonds before bed might help sleep if you are packing.

The expert went on: “Some of my clients find that if they eat too early than they might have a snack which will only be a handful of nuts, not a big snack, about an hour or two hours before they go to bed just to stabilise their blood sugar.”

Almonds have a high dose of melatonin in them.

One ounce of whole almonds contains 77 milligrams (mg) of magnesium and 76 mg of calcium.

These minerals are both thought to help with sleep and relaxation.

Foods to help you fall asleep

  • Warm milk
  • Chamomile tea
  • Kiwi
  • Walnuts
  • Tart cherries

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