If you’ve ever polished off a pint of ice cream or a full-size bag of chips after dinner, you know that what you eat before bed can have a major impact on your ability to fall (and stay) asleep.
But sleep-friendly snacking is about more than just steering clear of rich, gut-busting fare. Turns out, eating the right snacks can help you doze off easier—and steer clear of those annoying middle of the night wake-ups.
Just ask the pros. We chatted with six health and nutrition experts to find out what they love to nibble on before bed. And their answers were pretty delicious.
Peanut butter on rice crackers
It has a good combination of carbohydrates, protein, and fat to keep you satisfied—but it’s still light enough that you won’t feel uncomfortably full before going to sleep. You can add banana to it for some extra melatonin to help you get a good night’s rest!
–Jen Flachbart, MS, RD, founder of Plant Roots Nutrition LLC
Frozen Greek yogurt
Just take a container of Greek yogurt, and put it in the freezer. Even fat-free Greek yogurt freezes great. You’ll satisfy your sweet tooth without loading up on sugar—plus, the high protein content will leave you satisfied before bed.
–McKenzie Flinchum, RD, LD/N, CPT, owner of The Flexible Dietitian, LLC
Almonds contain magnesium, the relaxation mineral. They’re also high in protein, which means that your blood sugar will stay nice and balanced while you’re dreaming about winning the lotto. Try a tablespoon of almond butter, or a small handful of whole almonds to help your body and brain chillax.
–Jill Ginsberg, health coach and author of Self-Made Wellionare
Cashew gingerbread milk
I love hot cocoa, but it’s energizing, so not ideal to sip late at night just before you want to curl up in bed. The antioxidant-rich array of spices in this creamy drink support beautiful skin—and sweet dreams. Nutmeg is particularly beneficial for beauty sleep, so add a little extra if you need help settling down to bed.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water to cover for at least 4 hours or overnight, rinsed, and drained
2 1/2 cups purified water
2 pitted Medjool dates
4 tsp blackstrap molasses
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
In a high-powered blender or food processor, combine the cashews, 1⁄2 cup of the water, and the dates. Process until no lumps remain, about 2 minutes, pausing
frequently to scrape down the sides of the blender jar or work bowl. Add the remaining 2 cups water, the molasses, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves and process until well blended. Transfer to a saucepan and heat gently over low heat until warm. Pour into mugs and serve immediately. (Makes 3 servings.)
-Jolene Hart, registered health coach and author of Eat Pretty
Nutmeg is particularly beneficial for beauty sleep, so add a little extra…
Oatmeal with sliced banana and milk
If you’re heading to bed but craving a snack, don’t deprive your body. Instead, reach for something light that contains fiber and/or protein to slow the release of carbohydrates. That will prevent dips in blood sugar levels, which can sometimes may stimulate the release of adrenaline and cortisol in the middle of the night, causing you to wake up. This combo fits the bill.
–Jess Dyer, Head of Nutrition at Graze
Plain old water
Usually a few hours after dinner, I should really just be going to bed instead of eating more. Plus I want to give my body a full eight-hour fast, so I need an empty stomach while I’m sleeping. If my tummy is grumbling I’ll have a glass of water to settle it, which normally works. If I am really craving something more, I’ll have a handful of roasted almond or and apple with cashew butter.
–Alex Napoli, Certified Holistic Health Coach and founder of Napoli Holistic Coaching