Which bedtime snacks will help you sleep better – without packing on extra weight?
Ever notice how some evenings, our stomach’s able to convince us we haven’t eaten for hours – even when it feels like we just finished dinner? We’re watching our favorite show on Netflix when suddenly the urge to nibble becomes too much too ignore. But the question is, what should you eat before bed? If your bedtime snack is too small, you’ll wake up hungry in the middle of the night – and that leads nowhere good. If your snack is too large, you can kiss a good night’s sleep goodbye.
All bedtime snacks are not created equal
In America, we love our bedtime snacks – 35% of our total daily calorie intake happens after 6 p.m. Our favorite choices include chips, chocolate and cheese – healthy fruits and veggies lagging far behind. Not great for sleep – or our waistlines…
Because many of us spend our days grazing rather than eating well-balanced meals, we’ve become snacker aficionados. While we’re adept at snacking, we often aren’t smart in our choices. Reaching for cookies, chips or ice cream before bed can spike blood sugar levels and, in turn, cause disrupted sleep throughout the night. But if we snacked on a combination of macronutrient groups, pairing a carbohydrate and fat or a carbohydrate with protein, we’d stabilize blood sugar levels with the fat, slowing the assimilation of carbs in the blood stream. A better recipe for better sleep – and a slimmer waistline – for sure.
The challenge is making snack choices that are easy, quick and won’t disrupt our sleep – or pack on extra pounds while we sleep. Sleep and diet experts say the ideal bedtime snack is 150 to 250 calories and include a mix of fiber-rich carbs and protein. Ready to snack smarter before bed?
10 bedtime snacks built for better sleep
1. Bananas & milk. Grandma knew what she was doing when she fed you warm milk before bed – calcium helps your brain produce sleep-enhancing melatonin. Slice some bananas (they contain the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan, which encourages relaxation) and add a handful of magnesium-rich almonds and you’ve got a winning a sleep combo.
2. Cherries & dark chocolate. Cherries boost melatonin naturally. Sip a glass of cherry juice or scoop some into a bowl to munch on before bed. Throw in some dark chocolate, which help you produce serotonin, making it an over-achieving sleep superstar. Stick to chocolate that’s at least 70% cacao and you’ll reap the rewards without (too many) extra calories.
3. Chamomile tea. A warm drink before bed is comforting and soothing but coffee, most tea and hot chocolate all contain sleep-stealing caffeine. Chamomile lacks the caffeine and studies show it increases glycine, a chemical that relaxes nerves and muscles. Now all you need is your favorite book and you’ll be ready for sleep in no time.
4. Whole-grain toast & hummus. Made from chickpeas, hummus is rich in B vitamins, which help your body metabolize carbs, protein and fat – and use the stored energy in food. The toast will deliver the fiber you need along with a satisfying crunch.
5. Protein smoothie. A bedtime smoothie is a simple way to sneak in a protein-rich snack before – with some healthy antioxidants as a bonus. Blend 8 oz of low-fat milk with frozen blueberries, bananas or pineapple for a healthy treat under 200 calories.
6. Cheese & crackers. Pair whole-wheat crackers with a low-fat cheese and you’ve got the perfect combo carbs and protein. We see better sleep in your future already.
7. Pomegranate juice & almonds. Compared to green tea, pomegranate juice contains no added sugars, fillers preservatives or hidden caffeine – and has more antioxidant capacity. The almonds will give your taste buds a salty treat to compliment the sweet juice. And they contain tryptophan and magnesium packed in with essential fats and healthy protein, making them the ideal bedtime snack.
8. Greek yogurt & blueberries. Rich in protein and calcium, Greek yogurt will keep you satiated throughout the night, which means no waking up hungry. Blueberries deliver delicious antioxidants to help reduce stress, which means better sleep for you. Win win, right?
9. Trail mix. Choose your favorite dried fruits and nuts, mix them together and pre-portion them in quarter cup servings. Besides the healthy fats from nuts, they’re loaded in B vitamins and minerals. Walnuts, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries are especially high in melatonin.
10. Whole grain wrap. A warmed whole grain tortilla paired with hummus, unsweetened nut butter or a sundried tomato spread will provide a nice combo of fats, carbs and protein to satisfy hunger and help you sleep better.
Rest well & wake up ready to go!
Better sleep gives rise to better mornings, bringing your goals into focus and dreams within reach. Hungry for more sleep info? Dig into these posts:
- The high cost of sleep deprivation
- Why sleep is a powerful weapon against the flu
- Slow-cooker breakfast recipes you’ll dream about all night long