New research has found that nearly a third (31%) of self-employed workers like to drink coffee before bed, despite the high caffeine content in each cup.
The study explored Brits’ food and drink habits in the lead up to bedtime, with Time 4 Sleep teaming up with dietician and lecturer at King’s College London, Sophie Medlin, to discover the ingredients which are best at promoting sleep.
It was revealed that teachers like a bit of a treat before bed, with two in five (40%) choosing chocolate and crisps as their favourite evening snacks, more than any other foods.
Other professions that favour chocolate at supper time over other foods include:
• Admin/office workers (50%)
• Self-employed professionals (44%)
• Retired professionals (42%)
• Plumbers/electricians/builders (42%)
• Operational workers (41%)
• IT workers (33%)
• Finance professionals (24%)
Sophie revealed that such sweet bedtime habits are not as bad as some may think and that chocolate could actually help people fall asleep quicker.
“Tryptophan is the biggest influence on melatonin levels, an important hormone which controls our sleep patterns. Melatonin is produced in the brain and the amount of it we produce, and how efficiently our brain uses it, is affected by our diet.
“Chocolate is a particularly good source of tryptophan, so a hot chocolate or a little bit of chocolate before bed is actually really good for sleep, so long as you don’t over-indulge.”
Some popular evening snacks, however, do not possess the sleep-inducing ingredients Sophie lists. Crisps are a popular food for professionals to eat before bed, with 41% of admin and office workers and over half (54%) of retail workers choosing them over other options.
For those who are struggling with restless nights, here are Sophie’s top food-related tips:
Avoid spicy, junk and processed foods
These foods should always be avoided late in the evening, especially if it’s something heavy and difficult to digest as it means that your body must stay active while it processes the food.
Timing is key
Many people may struggle with acid reflux if they lay down to sleep with a full stomach. If you notice that you tend to cough or clear your throat a lot in the morning, it may well be that you are refluxing acid into your mouth while you are sleeping. Try to finish eating at least an hour before bed to let your stomach empty.
Look out for hidden caffeine
Most people know to avoid coffee at night due to the caffeine, but you might not be aware of caffeine being hidden in other substances such as green tea and fizzy drinks, so it’s a good idea to stay away from these too.
Don’t go hungry
Being hungry also affects sleep as our bodies instinctively try to keep us awake to find food. Following overly restricted diets or diets that put us at risk of nutrient deficiencies can really affect our sleep. If you find yourself feeling hungry before bed, a glass of milk, a small banana or a few nuts around an hour before bed could help to improve your sleep and your willpower the next day.
To help you get the best possible night’s sleep, Time 4 Sleep worked with nutritionists, Frances Balding and Sophie Medlin, to put together the perfect sleep recipe, to view the recipe visit the Time 4 Sleep website here: https://www.time4sleep.co.uk/blog/sweet-dreams-the-recipe-thats-key-to-a-good-nights-sleep/