By John Jannuzzi
Ever woken up in the middle of the night with a raging case of heartburn? A pounding sugar headache? An upset feeling in your stomach that you know won’t let you sleep anytime soon? Well, you’re only human, so you probably have. And you’re a smart human too, so you’ve probably guessed that it’s all because of what you ate in the few hours before going to sleep. And what messes with your sleep messes with your tomorrow. So what should you be binging on (or not) before turning in? We asked Rodrick Covington of Manhattan’s Core Rhythm Fitness what the deal is. While he maintains that everybody is different and that their bodies respond in unique ways, he did give us some general rules to go by.
Sweet Sweet Sugar
“You want to avoid sugar. Sugar literally sticks to you,” he said. We had an inkling our beloved sugar would make the list, but he explained it in a little more detail for us: “When you’re going to bed you’re not doing any movement to actually process it. All your body is doing is absorbing it. It’s going to mess up your sleep pattern, and you’ll wake up more lethargic.” Great okay, so sugar is off the list. Fan-fucking-tastic.
Nightcaps, Quick Drinks, Shots
We’ll give you the courtesy of assuming your binge-drinking days are behind you. But Rodrick cautions against alcohol three hours before you hit the pillow: “Drinking alcohol before you go to bed is like pouring water over a running engine. It’s gonna run hot and it’s not going to be able to run properly. It completely slows your metabolism down.” So if you can (Rodrick acknowledges it’s hard, especially for those of us with after-work commitments), lay off the sauce for a few hours before sleep. Your body will thank you in the morning.
Pretty Much all the Dairy:
Warm milk to help you doze off? Forget it, pal. Dairy contributes the same type of “stickiness” that sugar gets at. “The only cheese we’d recommend having as a snack before bed is cottage cheese,” he says, and also warns that dairy “messes with your bowel movements.” We don’t want anything in our stomach to go bump in the night, so we’ll pass on dairy as well.
There are a fair amount of guys out there who claim they can’t sleep without weed. That’s a problem for a lot of reasons. But for the purposes of this highly informative and nutritional blog post, it’ll bring on the munchies. “You’ll grab whatever is close. It’s like, ‘I’m gonna smoke some weed and then I’m gonna grab whatever cookies, or chocolate, or cake, or whatever to feed that craving.’” With the sugar rule this definitely rules out any edibles. Bummer.
So wait, what can we actually eat if we’re hungry? We begged him for an answer (as now our cabinets must be expunged).
“Really?” we said when we heard this one? “Honestly, avocado. Get that good fat in,” he told us over the phone. Okay, that’s cool with us, we can dig that. It is the mother of guacamole, and that can’t be bad.
Oil, From Coconuts
When you can, go for coconut oil over others. “If you put coconut oil into a pan, it gets much hotter. It burns the same way in the body, it processes it much better than any other oil.” We knew all those people at Whole Foods were on to something.
Incredible Edible at Night Eggs
It might feel a little strange to have eggs in the evening, but Rodrick said they’ll do your body good. “It actually increases your testosterone. If you increase that, you increase your protein and muscle-build. It’s a win-win.” Though don’t go throwing fried eggs on everything in sight, stick to scrambled or boiled.
Nuts & Berries
If you’re really hankering for something to munch on, reach for something that’s a little sweet, or a little salty to fight the craving. Almonds and cashews are a good place to start—"Those are all fats that your body is going to continue to burn and process.“ If you’re out for sugar, "berries aren’t bad either. Not only are they anti-oxidants, but they’re the lowest sugar in fruits that you could have.”
So there you go. Toss the oreos aside, and start eating for a better sleep and in turn, a better tomorrow, which will bring you a better week, month, year, life, and so on. And one final thing, Rodrick instructs us to stop eating about two hours before bed.
Photo: Getty Images