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25 Healthy Late Night Snacks

Lara Vargas

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The foods you eat before bed can largely impact your sleep. Fueling your body with a small, satisfying snack will help keep you full overnight and may have beneficial, calming effects. Choosing foods high in fat or sugar, on the other hand, may result in heartburn or indigestion.

If you’re looking for sustenance that supports your shut-eye, this article can help. We will provide a list of simple, nourishing bedtime bites, weigh the pros and cons of eating before bed, and walk you through the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about late-night snacking.

Best Practices for Late Night Snacking

There are some general guidelines you will want to follow when choosing an evening snack.

  • Keep portions small. They should be satisfying, not make you feel stuffed.
  • Be intentional with what you consume at night. Listening to your body and providing it with nutritious foods will help you to avoid overindulging and mindlessly eating.
  • Snacks should be less than 400 calories. Higher amounts can make it difficult to sleep.
  • Avoid sugary and salty foods “junk foods”. Common culprits include pizza, french fries, ice cream, and candy. As delicious and tempting as they can be, they often lead to uncomfortable heartburn and indigestion.
  • Focus on the quality of the foods you consume. You want to choose snacks that are high in nutritional value.
  • Eat whole foods. Whenever possible, aim for foods that aren’t processed or packaged.
  • Set yourself up for success by planning ahead of time. Having bedtime snacks on-hand and already prepared will help you to avoid the convenient, unhealthy foods that people often reach for when late-night cravings hit.

The Pros of Late Night Snacks

Night-time snacking can have several benefits for the body, including:

Aids in Weight Loss

Our bodies work hard at recharging and refueling while we sleep. In order to successfully do so, though, they require energy sources. This is why it’s important not to go to bed on an empty stomach.

Consuming the right foods help provide that energy, allowing the body to efficiently burn fat while sleeping. As a result, when done the right way, having a bite to eat after dinner can help to promote weight loss.

Helps You Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep

Nutrients found in some sleep-enhancing foods, such as tryptophan and magnesium, have the ability to induce calmness and help you drift off faster.

Facilitates Faster Recovery

When we sleep, our body releases Human Growth Hormone (HGH) to assist with muscle repair and healthy development. For those with active lifestyles, choosing nutritious foods at night is especially important because it helps promote deeper sleep and fewer sleep disturbances, ultimately leading to better recovery.

The Cons of Late Night Snacks

In some cases, late-night snacking can have negative effects, such as:

Poor Sleep

Certain snacks may interfere with your rest and disrupt sleep patterns. Avoid foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat such as pizza, potato chips, chocolate, and french fries.

Slowed Metabolism

Consuming foods that are high in carbohydrates like pasta or baked goods can cause your metabolism to slow. This often results in weight gain and difficult digestion because the foods will take a much longer time to break down while you’re asleep.

Indigestion and Heartburn

These painful and burning sensations can cause a lot of discomfort in the abdomen, making it difficult to get adequate sleep. Opting for easily digestible foods will help to prevent this. You should also allow yourself sufficient time before eating and heading to bed will help to prevent this. Three hours is optimal.

Serotonin, Melatonin, Magnesium – What do they all mean?

The following four terms will show up frequently in this article. For context and clarity, we’ll explain what they are and why they’re important when it comes to your late-night snack choices.

Serotonin: a chemical found in the digestive and central nervous systems. It plays a large role in functions throughout the body including mood regulation, digestion, and the initiation of deep sleep. Certain foods, such as bananas, contain amino acids that convert into serotonin, making them great for promoting sleepiness.

Melatonin: a naturally occurring hormone that regulates the sleep cycle. It’s what controls our internal clocks, using the amount of light in our surroundings to signal to the brain when it’s time to wake up and go to bed.

Magnesium: an essential mineral for the human body that we get from our diet. Studies show magnesium intake is linked to improved sleep performance. It is a natural relaxant that helps people to fall asleep more easily.

Tryptophan: an essential amino acid found in foods—especially animal proteins such as turkey, milk, eggs, yogurt, and fish. It doesn’t occur naturally in the body, so it must be eaten. When supplemented into the diet, it helps boost melatonin and serotonin levels.

Healthy Late-Night Food Options

Do you have a sweet tooth, or are you a person with a more savory palette? Whatever your dietary preferences are, there are plenty of healthful choices you can make when it comes to late-night snacks.

Below are 25 nutrient-packed, sleep-promoting options to consider:

Tart Cherries

These slightly sour yet sweet fruits contain powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as melatonin, to promote sleep. You can munch on ⅓ cup of dried cherries or have a small 8 oz. glass of 100% tart cherry juice. Either option works well for a sleep-enhancing snack!

Banana with Almond Butter

This is the perfect duo to eat before bed. Tryptophan-rich bananas will convert into melatonin and almond butter serves as a good source of magnesium. Almonds are also digested slowly which will keep you satiated throughout the night.

Kiwi

Kiwis are a light, yet satisfying fruit, making them ideal for eating at night. Like bananas, this tasty snack contains serotonin and can help to relax the body prior to bedtime.

Pistachios

With low calories and high magnesium , pistachios make a fantastic night-time option. 1 oz of these nuts is the ideal portion size. Grab a handful and you’re good to go!

Smoothie

Smoothies will keep you satiated all night without leaving you feeling weighed down. There are lots of different recipes to choose from, depending on what ingredients you like. You can blend various fruits, vegetables, nut butters, milks, and more. The options are endless!

Goji Berries

Otherwise known as “wolfberries”, these superfoods are antioxidant-rich, meaning they help the body defend itself against stress; this calms you down and brings your body back to equilibrium. As a result, they can aid in good sleep. They’re good enough to eat on their own, or you can try tossing them into a trail mix for a bit more variety!

Crackers and Cheese

This combination provides protein, carbohydrates, and tryptophan which, together, will help keep you feel full for longer periods of time. You will want to opt for whole-grain crackers, as they are high in fiber.

Hot Cereal

Otherwise known as oatmeal, hot cereal makes an ideal late-night choice for a couple of reasons; its soothing warmth can help you to wind down, and it is also a good source of fiber and melatonin. For a dash of natural sweetness and added health benefits, you can add some berries into your oatmeal as well.

Trail Mix

You can buy pre-made or make your own. If you opt for the store brands, just make sure to read the label as many of them are high in refined sugars. To make your own, you can include foods like nuts, dried fruits, and seeds.

Yogurt

Yogurt is abundant in calcium, a mineral that is linked to better sleep because of its ability to easily convert into melatonin. For a bit of added sweetness, you can add sliced fresh fruit on top.

For those seeking a dairy or lactose-free option, this can easily be substituted with a coconut or oat milk yogurt. There are several choices available on the market that make good alternatives.

Whole Grain Wrap

Wraps are a great night-friendly meal as they are filling, hearty, and easy to make. You will want to include sleep-promoting foods like turkey, cheese, and vegetables in them.

Pumpkin Seeds

According to the American Sleep Association, pumpkin seeds contain the sleep-inducing mineral magnesium and amino acid tryptophan. They’re also full of zinc, a nutrient that allows the brain to convert tryptophan into serotonin.

Edamame

A good rule of thumb for a restful sleep is combining protein and fiber. Edamame offers both, making it an ideal option for late-night nibbling. You can easily steam them for a healthy, quick bite.

Eggs

Eggs are a good source of protein that will satiate your hunger. Whether you like them scrambled, boiled, or in an omelette, you have a lot of variety here. Hard-boiled tends to be the easiest to keep on-hand and therefore makes a good choice. For added taste, use a dash of your favorite seasoning as well!

Apple Slices with Peanut Butter

The good fats in peanut butter are filling and an apple adds a dash of light sweetness. This is a wonderful option for those with a sweet tooth.

Peach with Nonfat Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese, like turkey, is high in tryptophan which will help you fall—and stay—asleep. A fresh, juicy peach helps kick the flavor up a notch while adding a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals.

Whole Grain Toast with a Scoop of Avocado

The bread’s complex carbohydrates will boost the brain’s melatonin production. Fiber from the avocado helps to keep you full. When paired, these foods make the perfect pre-bedtime snack.

Black Olives

As far as convenience goes, you can’t beat black olives. The small, slightly bitter fruits are rich in healthy fats to keep you feeling full all night. Plus, they’re easy to quickly grab.

Baby Carrots

Carrots are a quick, simple snack that contain several beneficial, sleep-promoting nutrients. They are also easy to digest which helps to avoid unpleasant indigestion at bedtime. No preparation needed, either, which is always a plus!

Nonfat Greek Yogurt with Berries on top

With tryptophan, protein, calcium, and magnesium, these two foods together provide a healthy serving of sleep-promoting ingredients. Yogurt also contains probiotics, microorganisms that support digestion and overall gut-health.

Macadamia Nuts

These slightly sweet tree nuts do a great job of optimizing brain function and suppressing hunger. They contain fiber and good fats which work hard all night help to keep you full.

Pear with Cheese

Fruit and dairy combinations are excellent before bed because they provide calcium and fiber. The flavors complement each other nicely, too.

Veggies and Dip

Satisfying, crunchy, and low in calories. Raw carrots, cucumber slices, celery, peppers, and/or zucchini all work well.

A Bowl of Berries

Berries are high in filling fiber and relaxing magnesium. Blueberries in particular are very nutrient-dense and packed with antioxidants.

Air Popped Popcorn

This deliciously crunchy snack is naturally low in calories. As a complex carbohydrate, it’s also a filling food which makes it a top choice for eating in the evening.

FAQs

Should you eat before bed?

Eating nutritious foods at night time can improve sleep. As long as you make healthful choices and allow some time for your stomach to digest it properly afterward, then eating before bed can be beneficial.

What foods should I avoid at night time?

As a rule of thumb, you will want to avoid foods that are high in sugar, salt, or fat such as chocolate, burgers, and french fries. They can lead to uncomfortable heartburn and/or indigestion that interfere with your sleep.

Why do I get so hungry at night?

Feeling hungry at night can often be due to insufficient food intake. For some, it may be out of habit or even boredom. To combat this, plan your meals out ahead of time, eat at regular intervals throughout the day, and include protein with every meal.

What are the healthiest late-night snacks?

As a general guideline, aim for foods under 400 calories that are low in fat, sugar, and salt. You will also want to choose whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible. Hard-boiled eggs, a whole grain wrap, or bowl of fresh berries all make good choices.

Are there any foods that can help you sleep?

Turkey, cheese, yogurt, eggs, and nuts are all great options. Packed with the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan, they are known for their ability to promote relaxation and restful sleep.

These foods also keep glucose levels steady throughout the night. Keeping blood sugar stable is important for sustaining a good night’s sleep because if it gets high, it could produce feelings of thirstiness or urges to use the restroom. If it dips too low, it can stimulate hunger. Both scenarios are less than ideal because they may wake you up in the middle of the night.

Conclusion

Sleep and proper nutrition are essential parts of a healthy life. Having nourishing, filling options to choose from when those inevitable late-night cravings hit will help you to stay on track with your wellness goals.

The next time you feel hungry before bed, instead of reaching for that slice of pizza or bowl of ice cream, do yourself a favor and fill up on one of these snacks instead. When you opt for foods with high nutritional value, you can go to sleep with a satisfied stomach and peace of mind knowing that you’ve fueled your body well.

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