Individuals who have difficulty with sleep - either falling asleep, staying asleep or waking early - may benefit from consuming a high protein bedtime snack one to two hours prior to bedtime. Bedtime snacks should be high in protein, and contain some complex carbohydrates to help facilitate sleep.
Protein-rich foods contain an amino acid called tryptophan that can help to promote sleep. Trytophan is a precursor of the sleep-inducing substances serotonin and melatonin. Tryptophan is needed in the brain to build these neurotransmitters, as well as calcium. However, some amino acids found in protein, such as tyrosine, can keep you awake. Dairy foods are a great option for a high protein bedtime snack because they are high in both calcium and tryptophan.
Carbohydrates are needed to help tryptophan pass through the blood brain barrier. The insulin found in carbohydrates allow tryptophan to pass through the brain, while blocking the "perk up" amino acid tyrosine. However, not all carbohydrates are effective at this. Whole-grain carbohydrates that are high in fiber and low in sugar are more effective at inducing sleep. Additionally, too many carbohydrates can have the opposite effect. Consume a small serving of complex carbohydrates such as whole-grain bread, pasta, rice, oatmeal, sweet potato or a small piece of fruit.
The best time to consume your bedtime snack is not right before you fall asleep, but rather one to two hours prior to bedtime. This time-frame will give amino acids and insulin a chance to be released into your blood stream, to help build serotonin and melatonin. This will induced relaxation and keep your blood sugar levels stable just in time for bed.
The best bedtime snacks are high in protein, fiber, complex carbs, minerals, and the amino acid tryptophan. High protein snack foods to consume at bedtime might include low-fat cottage cheese with a piece of fruit, a half of a sweet potato, a small serving of salmon with brown rice, half a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, or oatmeal with almonds or with natural peanut butter.
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.