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bedtime snacks

Eat Your Way To Better Sleep

Sleep is important for our health and our overall well-being. While we sleep, our body is hard at work repairing and restoring itself as best as it can. It is recommended that adults get about 7-9 hours of sleep per night, while children require a bit more. Unfortunately, most of us don’t always reach that goal, or we struggle with the quality of sleep for various reasons.

Lack of sleep can result in fatigue, clumsiness, and other serious health risks. Prolonged sleep deprivation can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Luckily, there are ways to improve our sleep patterns.

If you have trouble falling asleep or getting a good night’s rest, try adding these foods to your night time routine.

Tropical Fruit
Tropical fruits (think bananas, pineapples, oranges, cherries) contain compounds that naturally produce melatonin. In case you didn’t know, melatonin helps to regulate your sleep/wake cycle. By ingesting these fruits before bedtime, you are allowing your body to naturally fall asleep.

Have a banana or orange as an after dinner dessert or toss some tropical fruit into a blender for a sweet, sleep-aiding smoothie.

High-Fiber Crackers
Studies have shown that individuals who eat high fiber diets enjoy more restorative stages of sleep. You may notice that getting a restful night of sleep enables you to feel more energized the next day.

For a good protein-carb combo, pair high-fiber crackers with a low-fat cheese. Try keeping your dinner light as well.

Chamomile Tea
Chamomile has a natural calming effect on the nerves and can help to induce sleep. It also helps to ease gastrointestinal symptoms, boosts heart health and prevents inflammation. Thankfully, chamomile is low in calories with a naturally sweet undertone, so you may not need to add sweetener.

For better results, brew loose tea rather than tea bags.

Almonds can help because they are an excellent source of magnesium, which helps to promote better quality sleep. When we feel exhausted, we may make poor food choices (ex. fast food, junk food) which can also negatively affect our sleep patterns and quality. Break the cycle by reaching for almonds instead of chips or cookies.

When snacking on almonds, you may want to limit yourself to about 14 almonds (100 calories) as the calories can add up quickly.

Salmon, Tuna, Halibut
These fish choices are sources of vitamin B6 which can then be converted to melatonin and serotonin in the body. While melatonin helps promote a higher quality sleep, serotonin induces feelings of happiness and relaxation. Together, these can help you unwind and ease into a restful night of sleep.

Enjoy a protein packed dinner with any of these fish choices seasoned and prepared to your liking.

What helps you fall asleep at night? Share your favorite sleep tricks with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Catch us on Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest, too!

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Snacks For Better Sleep

If you’re having trouble sleeping, the last thing you might think to do is grab a snack. Aside from weight gain, eating close to bedtime is often discouraged because people believe it will keep you awake, but the right snacks can actually help you sleep better.

Choosing snacks rich in carbohydrates are your best bet. Carbohydrates affect insulin secretion, which can influence a sleep regulatory part of your circadian rhythm. Raising your blood sugar with a snack can raise your insulin levels, which can help tryptophan enter your brain and thus bring on sleep.

While carbs are suggested, carbo-loading is not. A small carbohydrate-protein balanced snack about 200 calories or less should suffice without impacting your weight. Be sure to avoid foods that contain caffeine (ex. chocolate, some decaffeinated teas), as this will have the opposite effect.

Some suggested nightly snacks:

  • A slice of whole wheat toast with a tablespoon of almond butter
  • A piece of fruit with a tablespoon of peanut butter
  • A half cup of rice
  • A half ounce of nuts and ¼ cup of dried fruit
  • A half cup of cereal with milk
  • A few crackers with cheese
  • A half cup of Greek yogurt

Do you have any night time snacks or other practices that help you get a good night’s rest? March 6-12 is Sleep Awareness Week, so share your best tips and tricks with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. You can also find us on Instagram and Vine.

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