We are actually beginning to approach the end of our sleep tips. Hopefully, if you have been following along each week you have seen an improvement in the quality of your sleep. If not maybe the last few tips are just what you need to start sleeping better now. As I started doing the research for this diet I hit a ton of misinformation that frankly can be very unhelpful for those that work the night shift, let alone someone who is just trying to get good information. Snacking before bedtime is really just the tip of the iceberg for some of us. The reason I say this is that quite a few individuals choose to workout right after their shift ends. Ideally, in my own opinion, the best time to workout would be shortly after waking up. More on this later.
To dive straight into snacking before bed first, for those that don’t always want a long drawn out conclusion, ideally, you should avoid any carbs before heading down for sleep. The reason behind this is carbohydrates will cause an insulin spike in your system. The intensity of this spike will depend upon they type of food you eat. To understand which carbs do what you have to familiarize yourself with the glycemic index. Most people don’t want to dive into the science of figuring all that out so I will give you a quick idea of what I am talking about. Low glycemic good, high glycemic bad. What happens is that when a food creates a spike in your insulin or blood sugar, it will inevitably also lead to a crash when your system runs through the blood sugar, and if you happen to be asleep when this hypoglycemia hits it will make sleep all the more difficult. As a precursor to this list, I follow along with a more paleo style diet but some of these things are not paleo, but it is meant for everyone to follow. Even those that don’t want to follow along with paleo.
LOW GLYCEMIC CARBOHYDRATES
Here is a preferred list of some of the foods that are “Low Glycemic”, and are recommended for sustained energy levels (slower absorption, lowered insulin response):
- Fructose (Basic sugar found in fruits)
- Pasta (Boiled 5 min.)
- Dairy ( Ice cream, skim milk, whole milk, yogurt)
- Fruits (ONLY-plums, peaches, apples, oranges, pears, grapes, grapefruit)(contains fructose)
- Rice (polished), or brown
- Sweet potato
- Most Vegetables ( exceptions- carrots, corn, root vegetables
HIGH GLYCEMIC CARBOHYDRATES
Here is a list of some of the foods that are “High Glycemic”(quickly absorbed, high insulin response)
- Sugars (from high to low: Maltose, Glucose, Sucrose)
- Puffed cereals (white rice, wheat, corn, rice cakes)YES! RICE CAKES
- Potatoes ( regular russet, instant, mashed)
- Bread (especially white bread)
- Instant products ( instant: rice, oatmeal, wheat, grits)
- Carrots, corn, peas
- Flaked cereals (corn flakes, etc.)
- Corn chips
Ok, so we covered that eating high glycemic carbs before bed is bad. But what is good? Protein. If you are going to eat anything before bed then you should be eating protein. Also be aware that protein rich foods can also contain carbohydrates. Such as milk. The lactose found in milk is actually a simple sugar, which is a carbohydrate. This is just one example.
Protein will not create an insulin spike like high glycemic carbs and will also help with making you feel fuller.
- Cottage cheese
- Greek Yogurt with Flax Seeds
- Canned Tuna
- Casein Protein Shake, low sugar
- Beef Jerky
- Hard Boiled Egg
Now to get into timing. Depending on your schedule you should honestly try to keep any meals or snack outside of a 90-minute window before sleeping. I know many times as soon as I get home after work I would immediately ingest a protein shake, which will sometimes include 6oz of Bolthouse Green Goodness. I never really realized that this was actually bad for the longest time. Getting into some of the science. Studies have been done that show that most people who work night shift actually fall asleep before their ideal melatonin window kicks in. If you have read any of my previous articles you know that Melatonin is the sleep hormone. If you fall asleep before it reaches its high point then you are going to have trouble sleeping. What that means is if you can manage it with your schedule you shouldn’t be going to bed immediately after getting off your shift. Some people won’t be able to help this I know. Another thing that I misunderstood for years is the myth that was pushed is the anabolic window. This is the magic 30-minute window in which you are supposed to ingest something high protein, preferably fast digesting like whey, within 30 minutes of any weight training. As I workout directly after my shift this makes my window conflict with my bedtime eating window.
A recent study from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition examined this phenomenon. When it came to building lean muscle mass, protein timing wasn’t a factor. Across all the studies, groups that gorged on protein immediately after exercise fared little better than those who simply ate the same amount of protein throughout the day.
To keep is simple for those that don’t want to dive into everything above. Eat a high protein snack before your bedtime. Keep your snack outside of a 90-minute window. And try to wait at least 90 minutes before sleeping after your shift to allow your melatonin to reach its highest levels.
Zaino, Chris. “All Carbs Are NOT Created Equal!” Bodybuilding.com. N.p., 03 Feb. 2017. Web. 03 Apr. 2017.