Eating at bedtime can have an undeservedly bad press. Eating lots of heavy, stodgy, fried food just before trying to sleep isn’t a good idea – but neither is going to bed on an empty stomach. To qualify as the perfect bedtime snack, food should be easily digestible and contain protein, calcium and tryptophan, an essential amino acid used in the production of serotonin which helps our bodies regulate sleep. The trick is to keep portion sizes small, though, or your body will have to stay awake to keep the digestive processes working. Think ‘snack’, rather than ‘three course meal’! Here are our top choices.
- Porridge. This is brilliant for warming you up before you go to bed, and it’s easily digestible and comforting too. Make it with skimmed milk to keep the calorie count down.
- Scrambled eggs. Two eggs, scrambled with a tiny knob of butter and some skimmed milk, are perfect at bedtime. They’re packed with protein and will mean you don’t wake up starving. (Remember to put the egg pan in to soak before you go to bed, though, or you may not thank us in the morning!)
- Plain yoghurt. It’s important to avoid eating too much sugar at bedtime, as it can affect your blood sugar levels and make you too ‘wired’ to sleep. Low fat or fat free yoghurt with a little granola and a few fresh berries will satisfy a sweet craving without keeping you awake.
- Oatcakes and ham. If savoury snacks are more your thing, then cold cooked ham (or beef, chicken or smoked salmon) spread on a couple of oatcake biscuits will fit the bill. Cottage or low fat cream cheese work well too, but steer clear of higher-fat options which can be indigestible.
- Nuts. If everything else seems like a lot of trouble to prepare last thing at night, then try a small handful of nuts (pistachios, cashews or peanuts). Avoid varieties that are highly flavoured, salted or roasted in oil though. Buy raw nuts and toast them in a hot oven for a few minutes for flavour (they can be cooked in batches and stored in an airtight container until required).
Once you’ve got your snacks sorted, the only other thing you need for a good night’s sleep is a pair of our perfect pyjamas, made from crisp, natural cotton.