Millions of Brits admit to binging at bedtime – to stave off late-night hunger pangs.
A new study of 2,000 people shows three quarters will eat just before bedtime, with 58 per cent reaching for naughty treats that may hinder sleep rather than healthy snacks that can help.
Most popular evening appetisers include chocolate, crisps, biscuits and buttered toast.
But while many people feel hungry before bedtime, a fifth believe their choice of food may be leading to a bad night’s sleep and experts have confirmed our choice of midnight feasts may end up COSTING us a good night’s kip, while opting for the right foods, such as cherries, can help you get a better night’s sleep.
Nutritionist Anita Bean, speaking on behalf of Seasonal Berries says: “We know that eating late night snacks can have a detrimental effect on our sleep patterns, and generally speaking the unhealthier the food, the worse sleep we’ll get.
“It has been proven that caffeine – found in coffee, tea, cola and energy drinks – can contribute to poor sleep and even insomnia, so try to avoid it after 2pm. It’s a powerful stimulant and it takes six hours for the body to recover from a single cup of coffee. Avoid too much alcohol too – more than one glass of alcohol will wake up your brain rather than relax it.
“But foods like cherries are powerhouses of nutrients, packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytonutrients. Cherries also contain melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate our sleep patterns.
“Researchers have found that drinking cherry juice 30 minutes after waking and 30 minutes before the evening meal boosted sleep time by 84 minutes and improved sleep quality in people with insomnia.”
But surprisingly, only 13 per cent of people surveyed thought that cherries could help with a better night’s sleep.
Other popular bedtime treats include cheese and crackers, nuts and a bowl of cereal. Some sweet-toothed Brits even reach for a bowl of ice cream or some cake.
But 61 per cent of people have been known to eat so much in an evening they’ve regretted it, and more than one in four are sure they wake up hungrier as a direct result.
The average person binge-eats at bedtime at least twice a week – and unsurprisingly also claims to have three broken night’s sleep.
More than half of people polled admit they find it easy sticking to healthy snacks during the day, but in the evening they just can’t resist a treat.
Key reasons for opting for more unhealthy snacks at night include boredom, and not being bothered to cook an evening meal.
A further 45 per cent say they eat because dinner time felt like ages ago, and 27 per cent blame a small portion size at mealtimes.
A fifth of people blame their eating habits on a partner, while 15 per cent are tempted by adverts on television.
Foods which are blamed for a bloated and uncomfortable tummy include cake, sausage rolls, and toast.
While others attribute the feeling of being wide awake to chocolate and ice cream.
Leading Elite Sports Sleep Recovery Coach, Nick Littlehales says: “Poor quality sleep will affect your cardiovascular performance, metabolism, the levels of information your brain can process and your emotional response to required tasks, this in turn negatively effects your performance whether it be in sport, work or play.
“Fresh cherries are a great natural addition to any diet, because they contain potassium and magnesium which aids every day physical recovery. They also contain Melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle to help relax, calm and prepare us for a more natural recovery (sleep).”
TOP 10 LATE NIGHT SNACKS
Cheese and crackers
Bowl of cereal