Bedtime snacks get a bad rap. If you're still clinging to the (common) belief that eating at night leads to unwanted weight gain, know that research indicates that your body doesn't metabolize food differently at different times of the day. And, as it turns out, nighttime snacking can actually improve your sleep. According to our friends at Women's Health, a new study from Japan's Yamaguchi University published in Cell Reports shows that snacking on carb-rich foods before bed can promote a healthy circadian rhythm — a.k.a. better night's rest.
If this sounds too good to be true, consider the science behind the study: In mice, insulin was found to affect the cycles of the gene PER2, which regulates sleep patterns. Researchers theorize that the same ingredients that promote insulin secretion — namely, carbohydrates — may also help reset your internal clock. If you need any more reason to indulge in a pre-bed bite, Women's Health has put together a list of some of the best foods to make you drowsy. (They also point out that nighttime snacks should be exactly that — snacks — rather than entire meals.)
Plus, a carb-rich snack can actually be healthy (sorry, donuts). Topping this list are cherries, which have some 24 grams of carbs a cup and the double benefit of being a natural source of melatonin. (And, how much more fun are cherries to consume than melatonin pills?) Also recommended is almond butter spread on whole-grain bread: Almond butter's magnesium may up muscle relaxation and sleep quality. Click through for the full list of five foods that are better than a lullabye. (Women's Health)