There is growing scientific evidence that eating too late at night could make controlling weight even harder. But sometimes, you truly are hungry at bedtime. The challenge is figuring out what you can eat that’s quick, tasty and won’t cause you to pack on the pounds. A small, nutrient rich bedtime snack under 200 calories is generally fine. Some bedtime snacks even contain compounds that may help improve your sleep.
Here are six delicious and healthy bedtime snack ideas.
- Banana Smoothie – Toss a banana and some low-fat milk in the blender for a smoothie that will give you a shot of the vitamin D and calcium you need to fall asleep. Both of these nutrients have been associated with decreased odds of suffering sleep issues. The banana also adds a touch of natural sweetness and is an excellent source of magnesium and vitamin B6, which aids in the production of serotonin.
- Whole Grain Graham Cracker with Cottage Cheese and Kiwi – The combination of carbs and protein can help lull you to sleep. Cottage cheese is also a good source of protein, which helps create tryptophan – the ever important sleep promoting amino acid. Top the whole thing with kiwi since a 2011 study linked it with longer sleep time in problem sleepers. Scientists suggested it was the antioxidants in the kiwi that helped to regulate the neurotransmitters that control sleep.
- Ham and Cheese Roll Ups – A small slice of cheese and one slice of protein-packed ham is low in calories, but enough to stop those late night tummy rumblings. It may even help keep the weight off long-term since cheese contains casein proteins, which when eaten 30 minutes before bed have been shown to improve your metabolism the next day.
- Whole Grain Toast with Almond Butter – One tablespoon of almond butter offers a good dose of magnesium. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to insomnia and muscle cramps, both of which can disrupt sleep. Whole grains also contain magnesium as well as sleep promoting carbohydrates.
- Tart Cherry Juice – In a study of older adults suffering from insomnia, researchers found that those who drank 8 ounces of tart cherry juice twice a day, slept 85 minutes longer than those who drank a placebo. Cherries are rich in melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone, as well as powerful antioxidants that help keep painful inflammation at bay.
- A Cup of Soup – Soup is gentle on your digestive system and the warmth is inherently calming. Choose broth-based soups like good old-fashioned chicken noodle or smooth soup like butternut squash. Avoid bean-based soups and watch for sodium content. Look for single servings so you don’t end up eating a whole meal’s worth.