6 healthy late-night snacks if you can’t resist the urge

Real Window Creative/Shutterstock

Snacking urges often come at very inopportune times. Larger nighttime meals may contribute to weight gain and poor blood sugar control. Luckily, other evidence suggests that smaller, nutrient-dense snacking late at night can actually help promote muscle-building and good cardiovascular health.

While you shouldn’t take down a hot fudge sundae right before bed, a little snacking in moderation can be just fine and even beneficial. In fact, the right late-night snack can actually help you get to sleep faster.

We took a deep dive into the issue and found six midnight snacks that can ease your hunger in a healthy way.

Walnuts

Protein is a plus in any late-night snack. Not only does it help you feel fuller faster, but it also helps your body build muscle as you sleep.

All nuts are fairly high in protein, and as such, all make for solid late-night snacking options. Walnuts, however, particularly stand out from the pack. They’re naturally high in melatonin, the hormone that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Walnuts also contain significant amounts of magnesium, which can calm the body, ensuring you easily drift off to sleep.

Hard-boiled eggs

Eggs are a kitchen staple for a reason. Hard-boiled eggs are a quick and healthy source of protein and amino acids that will fill you up fast without making a mess of the kitchen.

Perhaps best of all, eggs can help your body boost the production of tryptophan, the amino acid famously linked with sleep.

dried tart cherries
Alp Aksoy/Shutterstock

Tart cherries

Tart cherries are delicious and readily available in many markets and health food stores. These dynamos are chock full of antioxidants, and a 2018 study found that tart cherry juice increased sleep time and sleep efficiency. While more research is needed on the topic, scientists suggest that procyanidin B-2, a compound found in tart cherries, increased the availability of tryptophan.

Protein shake

If you aren’t already convinced, there are even more reasons why pre-sleep protein is a must. Ingesting protein before bed can “stimulate muscle protein synthesis and improve whole-body protein balance,” so if you’re looking to build muscle, consider keeping high-protein foods on your nightstand.

There are fewer more efficient ways to take in protein than a protein shake. Whether you choose whey or pea protein, this can be a tasty way to get your body working overtime while you get your shut-eye.

One note of caution: Avoid shake formulations that contain high amounts of added sugar, as that can cause digestive disturbances and interfere with sleep.

Daxiao/Shutterstock

Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt contains substantial amounts of calcium, the infamous bone-strengthening mineral. Yogurt also contains considerable amounts of protein and casein, a specific kind of protein found in dairy products that promote fullness.

Toast with peanut butter

The healthy fats found in peanut butter increase the body’s levels of the feel-good hormone serotonin, which promotes relaxation. The protein in this delicious spread also keeps you feeling fuller longer.

For a more complete snack, pair it with whole-grain toast to add complex carbohydrates. Peanut butter is chock full of the sleep-inducing protein tryptophan, and carbohydrates help the body use the tryptophan more quickly and efficiently. On top of that, this protein-carb combination also regulates blood sugar.

Late-night snacking does more than quell a growling stomach. It can be a legitimate part of your health routine (if done correctly). It might also shake off your insomnia by promoting more high-quality sleep. Everyone is different, so try out a few options until you find what works for you. Next time you’re feeling peckish before bed, don’t upend the chocolate syrup bottle over your mouth. Instead, consider one of these tasty and functional possibilities instead.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

Editors' Recommendations