Need to sleep better? Try eating right before bed.
We're serious. We know, we know ... thanks to a lot of research on the topic, conventional wisdom says we shouldn't eat before bed, lest we gain weight and stay awake.
(Recent research suggests that people who ate their main meal of the day earlier than others lost 25 percent more weight than the later eaters.)
But some snacks, such as those rich in carbohydrates, could help you sleep better, according to Alissa Rumsey, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
It turns out insulin -- a hormone that affects your metabolism -- can play a role.
"Insulin can influence a sleep regulatory part of your circadian rhythm," Rumsey told HuffPost. "Eating something that promotes insulin secretion, such as carbohydrates, might help promote a healthy circadian pattern."
A rise in blood sugar causes a rise in insulin, which can help tryptophan enter your brain and bring on sleep.
You shouldn't carbo-load, Rumsey said, but rather eat one small, balanced carbohydrate-protein snack to feel the effects without impacting your weight.
"In terms of promoting sleep, it should be a small snack -- no more than 150 to 200 calories. It should be carbs plus a little bit of protein," she said, adding that some foods naturally contain tryptophan, such as dairy, which can help, too.
"I’ll tell someone to have a cup of cereal with some milk in it, a small snack like that, or some whole grain crackers with a wedge of cheese. Keep it small and not have it be high in fat or a really high protein meal. It should be more carbohydrates."
Also, be sure to avoid foods that contain caffeine, such as chocolate and some decaffeinated teas (which can still affect those who are sensitive to caffeine).
Here is a week's worth of healthful, nutritious snacks that can help you have a restful night:
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Clarification: A previous statement from Alissa Rumsey has been updated to clarify that a rise in blood sugar is not the result of, but rather produces, a rise in insulin.