Midnight Snacks: 4 Choices That Will Help You Sleep

Midnight Snacks: 4 Choices That Will Help You Sleep

Midnight snacks are a phenomena that I never really thought about until I came to college.  Even if you were never a late-night snacker at home, there will be a time at school when you will inevitably feel the need to eat something right before bed.  After all, going to bed hungry or waking up starving are two feelings you’d like to avoid.  The key to the late-night snack is to be smart about it—just because it’s a little after 12 am, doesn’t mean you should sabotage the healthy choices you’ve made throughout the day.  Here are 4 choices that will leave you satisfied and promote a good night’s rest:

Banana: My little sister knew what she was doing when she would have a “sleepy banana” each night before bed years ago.  Bananas are full of minerals and chemicals to promote a good sleep.  One banana contains muscle relaxants like potassium, magnesium, and tryptophan, as well as chemicals and neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin to promote relaxation and sleepiness.  Have it by itself or with peanut butter, if you’d like.

Almonds: No surprise that this great daytime snack is also good before bed.  A handful of almonds contains magnesium, which is a muscle relaxant and promotes sleep.  Or, if you have it on hand, spreading some almond butter on toast will give you the same effect.
Decaf tea: For the evenings that you aren’t as hungry but still want something, try a cup of decaf tea.  Herbal teas like mint and chamomile will promote relaxation to help you unwind before you go to sleep.

Milk & cereal: Milk has always been associated with sleep because it contains tryptophan and calcium.  Calcium regulates the production of melatonin in the brain.  Cereal gives you that extra carb punch to leave you satisfied—for best results, try one with whole grains that is low in sugar.  I really like Barbara’s Bakery Puffins brand, which is sold at Trader Joe’s and in most supermarkets.

To get the maximum effects, try to have your snack about an hour before you plan on going to bed.  Also, stay away from these common late-night temptations:

Greasy, high-fat foods: Cheeseburgers, pizza, and other fast-food options are going to initially make you feel tired, but will not lead to a restful night’s sleep because it is too much for your body to digest.  If you must indulge, make sure it is at least 3 hours before you plan on going to bed in order to give your body enough time to digest.

Caffeine: Some people are more sensitive than others, so if you know you are prone to be very alert after having something with caffeine, stay away from it several hours before going to bed.  Remember that some teas, chocolate, and sodas have caffeine in them.

Alcohol: You may feel sleepy after being at a party, but if you have consumed more than 1-2 drinks, chances are that your sleep will be disrupted.  Alcohol is a depressant but also impacts the quality of sleep, and infiltrates the body with a rush of sugar right before bedtime.