It’s nearly time for bed. You’ve done your nightly routine of a warm bath or shower, reading a book, listening to soothing music, and calming your mind. There’s just one problem. Your stomach isn’t calm at all. You’re hungry!
The good news is that you don’t need to and shouldn’t go to bed hungry. The bad news is now you are challenged with figuring out what you can eat that’s quick, tasty, healthy, and won’t make it difficult to sleep. Before you reach for the pint of ice cream or cookies, know that there are plenty of snack ideas that check off all of these items. Some snacks even contain compounds that may help you sleep better! A few we recommend include:
#1 Tart Cherries
Tart cherries are a great snack idea for a variety of reasons. To begin, they have anti-inflammatory benefits and may offer protection against inflammation-related conditions like arthritis and heart disease. Studies have also shown they aid in sleep. Tart cherries contain the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. As well, they also contain the phytochemical procyanidin B-2, which can be used to make your own melatonin. One-third a cup of dried tart cherries only has around 140 calories, so you’re getting a lot of benefits for a snack that won’t ruin your diet! If you’re worried this won’t be enough, add some Greek yogurt! The calcium in this type of yogurt helps your brain use tryptophan and melatonin. A recent University of Pennsylvania sleep study suggested that it can help you stay asleep longer.
#2 Banana with Almond Butter
If you’re really hungry and a handful of cherries isn’t going to cut, you do have some more substantial options. A banana dipped in a tablespoon of almond butter is a tasty, 165-calorie combination that is sure to kick those hunger pains. And yes, this snack helps you sleep better! Bananas are one of the few fruits known to be relatively rich in serotonin, some of which your body converts to melatonin. Almond butter adds extra melatonin as well. Plus, this type of nut butter is a good source of healthy fats, vitamins, and magnesium. Talk about a perfect pairing!
Are you noticing a trend yet? Fruit is really good for you, and many of them help you sleep better without adding a ton of extra calories to your daily intake. Up next on our list is kiwis. Two peeled kiwis have less than 100 calories combined, plus fiber and Vitamin C. Studies have also shown they’re really good at making people fall asleep faster.
That’s not to say fruit is the only good option for a healthy late-night snack. Oatmeal is way more than just a breakfast food! It has plenty of benefits when eaten at night as well. Oats are a complex carb that will break down slowly in your system, meaning you will feel fuller, longer. According to a Columbia University study, the carbs in oatmeal actually work with your brain to release the serotonin, like the banana mentioned above. Eating a warm, soothing bowl of oatmeal relaxes you into a peaceful state of mind and helps your body produce melatonin for a restful night of sleep ahead.
There’s a lot to love about hummus, no matter what time of day or night you eat it. This Mediterranean favorite will keep you full for hours because it is packed-full of protein and healthy fats. This is also why it is an ideal savory treat for a late-night snack. Spread it onto pita bread or use it as a dip for whole-wheat crackers, cucumbers, or carrots. When your stomach is full, you can head to bed happy.
You work so hard during the day to keep your body and mind healthy. Don’t ruin all of your hard work at night! Not only that, but unhealthy foods late at night can wreck your night of sleep too. If you’re up too late with a stomachache or heartburn and don’t get the full night of deep, restorative sleep you need, you’ll be tired and slow the next day. What happens when you’re tired? You are much more likely to reach for carb-filled, sugary foods and much less likely to workout. It’s a vicious cycle you don’t want to get into.
Tonight, when you’re feeling a little hungry before bed, reach for one of these healthy late-night snacks. If you are wanting to find a good snack not on this list, try to find options high in melatonin and magnesium. Magnesium has been linked to good sleep, since it may support your body’s production of melatonin. By being choosy with your snacking, you won’t ruin your health and fitness goals, plus you’ll fall asleep and stay asleep easier. It’s just one easy way to keep your overall wellness where it should be!