On top of the stress of a busy day, tomorrow’s obligations stack in our head, keeping us awake in bed. You know the feeling. Even if you’re dead tired, you can’t stop thinking. There is away to get over it, and it may come as a surprise. A midnight snack!
We’ve been warned against snacks to keep stay fit and healthy, and some of us have heard we shouldn’t eat after dinner. But contrary to that belief, a little treat before bed can actually help ensure a full night of rest.
While kids probably aren’t tossing and turning thinking of a big meeting or presentation at work, they may wake up from a bad dream. A toddler could use a little something to tide them over until breakfast, and kids going through growth spurts may need the extra calories, too. A healthy snack with their bedtime ritual can be effective in helping them settle down.
Try these guilt-free nibbles before bedtime for a good sound snooze:
- Half a banana and a few raw almonds
- Peanut butter with apple slices
- Cheddar cheese on a whole-wheat cracker
- Pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- Low-fat yogurt with fresh berries
- Hummus with sliced cucumbers
- A serving of cherries
- Whole-grain toast with almond butter
- Whipped warm milk
- Chamomile tea
Mix up the combinations to suit your taste: serve sliced bananas with peanut butter, apples with cheese or almonds with cherries.
These foods provide a relaxing effect for various reasons. Seeds and cheese contain tryptophan — the alleged culprit in post-Thanksgiving drowsiness — which converts to melatonin in our system to promote sleep. There’s also melatonin in cherries and bananas. Almonds have a slight muscle relaxing effect, and dairy products contain calcium, which helps keep you asleep.
What to Avoid at Night
Kids are tempted to reach for a cookie before bed, but this high-sugar carb will create a crash after a temporary energy boost — just the opposite of what should happen before bed. The following items should be consumed no later than midday to prevent troubled sleep patterns:
- Caffeinated teas, soda and coffee
- Chocolate (with both sugar and caffeine)
Remember to keep snacks low-fat and low-sugar any time of day. High-protein, especially at night, will make digestion sluggish. Make the portions small — think cheese sticks and a teaspoon of peanut butter. A snack is a holdover — not a meal. Also, eat 45 minutes to an hour before hitting the hay.
Have fun preparing dishes with your children and add a cherry on top, literally (for a touch of melatonin). Share the treats with your whole family to enjoy the benefits and ensure a full night’s rest.