Often feel a bit peckish when you’re getting ready for bed? Instead of reaching for your favourite snack out of ease or comfort, it’s worth considering why you might be hungry and which foods are best to eat before going to bed.
Why am I hungry at night?The most likely cause of your late-night tummy rumblings is simply that you didn’t have enough dinner! While it’s not always recommended to eat right before bed, going to sleep with an empty stomach isn’t just uncomfortable (and noisy if your stomach gurgles!), but it also means your insulin levels might be low which could have an impact on your quality of sleep1. Thankfully, there are a few things you can eat in small portions which will satisfy your cravings and make sure your snoozing isn’t disrupted. Medical professionals recommend sticking to a snack that’s less than 200 calories to make sure you feel adequately sated yet still in control of your weight1.
When it comes to types of food to avoid late at night, you’ll want to watch out for:3
Sugar – the last thing you need before you go to bed is energy which is why you should avoid sugary items. If you can’t resist a square of chocolate in the evenings though, make it a dark chocolate which has very low added sugar.
Fatty foods – if you’re a regular sufferer of heartburn, eating greasy foods like pizza or cheese on toast right before bed is a big no-no.
Spicy foods – for the same reason listed above, eating something spicy before you go to sleep can aggravate heartburn and may even give you an uncomfortable stomach ache.
Salt – as salt can dehydrate you, it’s something that’s best avoided when you’re about to fall asleep.
Four quick night time snack ideas
Need some inspiration for a healthy late night snack? Consider making one of the following treats next time you get hunger pangs before bed:
1. Hummus and crackersPerfect for vegans and vegetarians, hummus is a great night time snack as it’s packed with protein. Protein can help keep you sated for longer and ensure you don’t wake up later on in the night still feeling famished4. You could buy ready-made hummus or make your own with a tin of chickpeas, a tablespoon of tahini, a splash of lemon juice, some olive oil and seasonings5. Try dipping wholegrain crackers or raw veggies in it for a tasty snack that’s under 200 calories.
2. Banana and almond butter on seeded toast6
Bananas are great for promoting sleep thanks to the fact they contain magnesium, a nutrient that’s thought to boost our bodies’ production of melatonin – the hormone which makes us feel relaxed and sleepy.
Certain nuts, particularly almonds, are also thought to stimulate melatonin production. This makes almond butter the perfect companion for banana on wholemeal toast! If you don’t want the extra carbs from the bread, simply dip your banana in some nut butter instead or eat it with a small handful of whole almonds.
3. Nutty granola barsAs we’ve mentioned above, nuts are thought to increase our melatonin levels, particularly varieties such as pistachios and almonds. Certain seeds are also healthy options for snacks as they’re great sources of fibre, which can keep you feeling fuller for longer7.
You’ll discover loads of granola bars in our shops and online. If you’d rather make your own and pack them with ingredients you love, consider using healthy ingredients such as walnuts, pumpkin seeds and goji berries.
4. Homemade popcornPopcorn is an awesome snack option just before bed as it’s low calorie and filled with fibre8. Nevertheless, many of the more traditional toppings we love on our popcorn (such as sugar and salt) are not ideal ingredients for promoting sleep. Instead, why not try popping your own without those additions? Choose a healthy oil such as walnut, avocado or extra virgin olive oil to cook the kernels in and infuse them with a subtle flavour. Want to go one step further? Prepare your popcorn in an air popper which uses zero oil. You’ll find everything you need to make your late night snacks in our cooking essentials range, plus some brilliant ready-made options – from nut butter balls to popcorn – in our snacks section.
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Last updated: 25 April 2020