Will a bedtime snack help me sleep better?

Answers from Timothy Morgenthaler, M.D.

There is some evidence that eating late in the day actually makes it harder to sleep, especially if you eat fatty foods. In addition, it's a good idea to avoid certain foods late in the day because they can lead to digestive problems. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Avoid large, high-fat meals late in the day. Studies have shown that eating a large meal close to bedtime may make it harder to fall asleep.
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day and avoid alcohol at bedtime. Both can interfere with sleep. It can take several hours for the stimulating effects of caffeine to wear off. Alcohol may make you sleepy, but it can also prevent deep sleep and cause you to wake up during the night.
  • Don't drink too many fluids before bedtime. Drinking lots of fluids before bed can cause you to wake up repeatedly to use the bathroom.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat a balanced and varied diet with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat protein sources. Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and getting appropriate exercise can help you sleep well.

Everyone has trouble sleeping from time to time. But if you frequently have insomnia, see your doctor to find out what steps you can take to improve your sleep.

With

Timothy Morgenthaler, M.D.

Mar. 04, 2014