Answered by on Monday, June 1, 2009
A late night refrigerator raid won't send Freddy Krueger into your dreams, says Robert A. Hicks, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at San Jose State University. “In fact,” says Hicks, “it's not a good idea to go to bed on an empty stomach, because you might interrupt your sleep by waking up due to hunger; and if you eat the right foods before bedtime, you may even sleep better.” He recommends a small snack about 90 minutes before heading to bed. “You want a combination of something that's high in protein—it contains the enzyme L-tryptophan, which helps you become relaxed and drowsy, along with a little bit of carbohydrate, which helps deliver the enzyme to the brain,” says Hicks. Now you can justify having milk and cookies or Hicks's personal pre-bedtime favorite, ice cream. As to the myth about food and nightmares, “that probably got started because certain foods promote sleep, and the longer you sleep, the more likely you are to dream—which, unfortunately, includes nightmares,” says Hicks.