We already know excessive consumption of sugar is linked to health issues such as diabetes, weight gain, high blood pressure, and fatty liver disease, to name but a few. It can also make sleep more difficult. You may know to avoid candy, doughnuts, pies, desserts, and soda before bed, but do smoothies seem like a nice healthy snack?
Research published in BMJ Open in March 2016 looked at beverages marketed to children in the UK, and found that packaged smoothie products averaged even more sugar per serving (around two and a half teaspoons) than juice. About 40 percent of the products tested contained close to 4 teaspoons of sugar.
“Sugar plays a role in many of our health woes, so it’s probably not surprising to see it come up on a list of foods to avoid at bedtime,” Taub-Dix says. For some people, sweets provide an energy spike that could keep them counting sheep instead of sawing logs. Plus, refined sugars can induce rapid fluctuations in your blood-glucose levels, she says, which can spike adrenaline and make it difficult to fall asleep.
“If you are hungry before bed, a complex carbohydrate or protein is a better choice, like whole-wheat toast or a banana with Greek yogurt,” Gabriel suggests. “Try eating an open-faced peanut butter or almond butter sandwich on whole-grain bread. Almond or peanut butter are both high in protein and healthy, unsaturated fat, while whole-wheat bread offers fiber and more complex carbohydrates than white bread, keeping your blood-sugar levels stable while you sleep.” Gabriel suggests bananas before bedtime. Per the USDA, they have high levels of potassium, magnesium, and fiber. All these nutrients were found to help encourage sound sleep, according to a study published February 2019 in the journal Cureus.
“Ideally, a meal right before bed should be smaller than ones during your more active portions of the day. One piece of toast with a tablespoon or two of peanut butter, or a small banana should suffice.”
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