News just in: sleep’s super important.

Everyone knows about sleep duration. We’ve all been told that you need a dark room, it needs to be colder rather than warmer (about 18 degrees), and try not to stimulate yourself with blue light.

A few weeks back we looked into how the time you wake up is seemingly more statistically relevant for overall health than the amount of time you spend asleep, too.

But food – when we eat and what – is the fourth contributor to quality sleep that gets a little less attention.

Stop The Chomp


Do your Googles and listen to Diary of a CEO and you’ll hear that three hours before bed is a good time to stop eating. That’s true. However, the benefits continue for each additional hour up to as much as six hours before sleep, as per 2021 research of over 124,000 people across 15 years.

Six hours before bed is unreasonable for most people. However, interestingly, the same study found that people who ate within an hour before bed slept for longer than those who forewent food for 2+ hours before bed – about 25 minutes longer on weekdays. But this isn’t a good thing.

This isn’t a good thing, though. They were twice as likely to wake up. This means they spent more time in bed whilst having a less efficient sleep.

Choices Choices


Let’s face it, though, you’re going to get hungry in the evenings at some point. So, when that time does come, let’s highlight a few suggestions.

Firstly, when you’re underslept it’s been shown that your brain responds more favourably to what we consider junk food (St-Onge et al., 2014) as proven by offering the same foods to individuals who’d had a full night's rest.

Why’s that a bad thing? Well, 2023 data showed that individuals who opted for fruits/nuts/seeds for their late-night snack slept for an additional 30 minutes when compared to things like sweets and crisps (OneCare Media Survey, 2023).

Eating the same foods at different times of the day increases your blood sugar by different amounts. In the morning, the spike is lower when compared to the evening

Late-night meals mean your body still has to digest that food. This means you’ll send more blood to your digestive system, which means less will be used in the rest of your body for recovery. Further, digestion has a thermogenetic effect (meaning it creates heat through the process). As we’ve mentioned, colder is better for sleep. So… there’s another reason for you. 

But I’m Hungry


Okay, so if you’re close to bed and you’re still craving food there are two things to keep in mind. Foods that are high in melatonin (like cherries and almonds) or tryptophan (like turkey and pistachios) have sleep-inducing qualities (Zuraikat et al., 2021). Eating these as your final foods for the day will likely have a beneficial effect on your ability to sleep.

If you do have to eat super close to bedtime, the research suggests you should have a pretty meagre amount: a serving equivalent to about 150 cals (Kinsey et al., 2015).

Ultimately, if you’re getting ravenous in the evenings it’s probable that you’re undereating throughout the day. By shifting your meals a little earlier, you’ll be setting yourself up for a better tomorrow.


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