Lately I’ve been thinking alot about bedtime snacks. There seems to be a bit of a debate going on about whether or not it is a good idea to have “a little something” before retiring at night. There are some very smart folks on either side of the discussion and I was hoping to get a dialogue going on here so I can follow it along with you. Here is some of what I’ve seen of the question:
The Case FOR a Bedtime Snack
Michael Breus, PhD, “The Sleep Doctor”, says you should not go to bed hungry and recommends a high carbohydrate, low protein snack in the hour before bed.
More from Dr. Breus
Today Show nutritionist, Joy Bauer points out that while you should not eat a big meal too close to bedtime, a snack may be just the thing to beat chronic insomnia. The trick is to “combine foods that have some tryptophan with ample carbohydrate”.
More from Joy Bauer
Here’s another article from Discovery Health by Virgil Wooten, MD that promotes a light healthy snack before bed for more restful sleep. Again, the carbohydrates seem to be the clear favorite.
More from Dr. Wooten
The Case AGAINST a Bedtime Snack
Well known sleep apnea specialist, Steven Y. Park, MD has been very clear on the dangers of eating too close to bedtime. He puts it this way in this MedHelp Journal entry, “Three to four hours is the general recommendation to avoid eating before going to bed. The only thing you can have is water within this timeframe.”
More from Dr. Park
Mayo Clinic offers advice to avoid eating at least 2 hours before bedtime. They also specifically warn against spicy or fatty foods, especially for heartburn sufferers, as these could lead to heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux that could interfere with restful sleep.
More from Mayo Clinic
In his Daily Blog, much beloved Dr. Andrew Weil makes these comments on the subject, “It is more difficult to digest food when lying down. Our digestive tracts work best when we are upright – sitting, standing or even walking. When you lie down after a meal, gravity can disrupt proper digestion; this can lead to acid reflux, or heartburn, which can hinder sleep. Digesting food requires the body to expend energy. This can interfere with the relaxed metabolic state required for sleep.” He also says that any eating before bed should be limited to “small, healthy snacks”.
More from Dr. Weil
So where do you stand on the issue of bedtime snacks?
- Do they help us drift to sleep with the help of tryptophan producing carbohydrates?
- Do they keep our blood sugar even through the night or cause disruptive spikes and troughs?
- Should we fast for hours before sleep or is this advice only for those who have GERD?
- Can the body digest a meal and sleep at the same time? It has to, doesn’t it – since it takes several hours from end to end, as it were…
- If we eat before bedtime what should we eat and what should we avoid?
- What do you think of products like this one? Click here to learn about NightFood
Please post your comments, information, insights and ideas below. I am really interested to hear your thoughts.
Best Wishes for Peaceful Sleep,