The Best Snacks for a Good Night's Sleep

In our hectic world, a good night's sleep can often feel like a rare treat rather than a normal part of our routine. While lack of sleep can affect our attentiveness, health, and mood, it can also have a negative effect on our weight and eating habits. 

In a recent article, the New York Times examined the importance of getting a full night's sleep and how it effects the hormones in our bodies. Studies show that women who get less sleep on average weigh about 5.4 pounds more than their counterparts who regularly get seven hours of sleep.

Sleep-related weight gain has two main possible causes:

* Staying awake for longer means more time for calorie consumption and a higher likelihood of munching snacks late into the night. * Lack of sleep reduces levels of leptin, the hormone responsible for suppressing appetite in our bodies, and raises levels of ghrelin, the energy-regulating hormone that tells our bodies to consume more calories.

While eating a large meal before bed can make it difficult to sleep due to heavy digestion, a low-calorie snack before bed can actually help you sleep through the night without being woken up by hunger. Experts suggest foods like dairy and nuts that are high in levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that can make you sleepy, paired with a complex carbohydrate to help tryptophan make its way to the brain faster. Here's a list of good-for-you snacks that may help with sounder sleep.

1. A small container of nonfat yogurt with low-fat granola cereal. 2. Low-fat popcorn sprinkled with parmesan cheese. 3. A small bowl of cereal with milk. 4. A slice of toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter 5. A small piece of cheese with a couple of whole wheat crackers.

What are some of your favorite bedtime snacks?

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