Do you have a late night snack before going to sleep? Is it affecting your sleep and dreams?
I have a couple of spoons of muesli – yes, I know it’s a breakfast food – in a glass of milk mixed with natural yoghurt every night before bed. If I’m really hungry, it’s three spoons. And I’ve just discovered that it’s the best food for great sleep and dream recall. Here’s why:
My breakfasty nightcap is pumped high in tryptophan, an amino acid the body converts into serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin is a mood enhancer (ah, sweet dreams), and melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your sleep.
Dairy foods are top of the list for being high in tryptophan, and oats are also noted as a high source. Milk: tick. Yoghurt: tick. Oats: tick. Also prominent in the list are sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, which are an abundant feature of my homemade muesli mix: tick.
Guess what I have for breakfast? The same, only much more. I have about ten spoons of my muesli and add half a banana. But I don’t fall asleep after breakfast because I’m well-slept and, um, well, there’s my caffeine-rich coffee to follow.
Some research suggests that tryptophan may assist dream recall since people with tryptophan deficiency often have poor memory of their dreams.
What else is good for a late night snack?
What else is good for a late night snack? And what’s not so good?
Poultry is high in tryptophan, but protein takes a lot of digesting, enough to disturb your sleep. Big meals before sleep are not a good idea.
Bananas are high in tryptophan, and also rich in the B vitamins known to make dreams more vivid. Bananas are also complex carbohydrates, and complex carbs are in the tick box for a good night’s sleep because they stimulate the release of insulin which makes it easier for the tryptophan in your dairy snack to get to work. (Note, that’s complex carbs, not sugary junk carbs!)
What not to eat before bed
What not to eat? This slideshow lists foods with high fat content, caffeine (chocolate and many common medications are high in caffeine), alcohol, spicy foods, and protein.
For most of my life I’ve had a glass of hot milk before bed, and it’s only been in recent years that I’ve added the muesli because my blood sugar levels started dropping too low in the middle of the night. No wonder I’ve always enjoyed good sleep and abundant dream recall.
73,000 spoonfuls of muesli
Here’s my homemade muesli recipe, developed and refined over the last 20 years. Yes, I must have eaten around 7,300 bowls of this stuff, or 73,000 spoonfuls! I like to think it’s contributed many wonderful healthy benefits, including great sleep and abundant dream recall, ripe pickings for daily insight.
Jane Teresa’s Muesli
No cooking required. Just mix the ingredients thoroughly!
Makes about 7kg (lasts our family about three weeks)
Organic ingredients are best:
About 6 kg Oats
500g LSA (linseed, sunflower, almond, ratio 3:2:1, all finely ground)
50g Hazelnuts – grind
100g Walnuts – grind
110g Mixed nuts (Brazil etc) – grind
125g Shredded coconut
100g Sunflower seeds
250g Pepitas (pumpkin) seeds
100g Sesame seeds
250g Dried apricots – chop
About 10 Figs – chop