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Dietitian Shares 5 Healthy Late-Night Snacks That Can Help You Sleep

These foods can help promote melatonin and serotonin production when you need it most.

Whether you're up burning the midnight oil or simply caught up in your latest binge-watch, you've probably been tempted to reach for the fridge at some point well past your regular bedtime. Unfortunately, eating right before you go to sleep can disrupt your rest if you're not too careful. But that doesn't necessarily mean you'll have to go hungry until morning. If you've got the midnight munchies, there are a few healthy options you should consider before you start breaking into the junk food. Read on to discover the healthy late-night snacks that can help you sleep, according to a dietician.

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Greek yogurt bowls

Greek yogurt with nuts and blueberries

Whether your dinner was too early, too small, or you're simply just ready to eat again, getting hunger pangs after bedtime can put you in a tricky spot. Evenings are a particularly sensitive time for what we put into our bodies if we want to sleep well or are focusing on long-term health. But in a video recently posted to TikTok, dietician Taylor Grasso explains there's a right way to go about feeding yourself after your bedtime.

"This is me telling you that you can eat after 6 p.m. [and] that it is totally OK," she says. "A little caveat here is that I would recommend eating your larger dinner meal two to three hours before you go to bed. Having a large meal right before you go to sleep can cause our heart rate to increase while we are sleeping, and that can decrease our sleep quality."

However, she says certain types of snacks are appropriate for late-evening eats. Typically, this involves combining a complex carbohydrate with a protein to help stabilize your body while you rest. Her first suggestion is a Greek yogurt bowl mixed with some special fruit toppings.

"Greek yogurt is packed with protein and also with calcium," Grasso says. She explains that protein will help to stabilize your blood sugar levels throughout the night, leading to improved quality of sleep.

"Not to mention that if you top this with something like tart cherries, you're going to get a boost of natural melatonin, plus a little sweetness—drizzle a little honey on there—and you have yourself a delicious midnight snack," she adds.

Banana or whole grain crackers and peanut butter

A close up of sliced bananas and peanut butter on a plate

The combination of peanut butter and banana is a simple yet delicious snack and a typical midday pick-me-up for many. However, Grasso says it's also a fantastic option for late-night eats.

"Bananas are packed with potassium and magnesium, which can both help to promote relaxation and help relaxation and help the body just unwind and get ready for bed," she explains. "And peanut butter actually contains tryptophan, which can contribute to the production of melatonin—or the hormone that helps you to fall asleep."

Out of fresh fruit? You can swap the banana for whole-grain crackers from your pantry.

"Whole grains contain complex carbohydrates," says Grasso. "When we're talking about a complex carbohydrate, typically, they have a little bit more fiber and a little bit more protein, which means they're going to help to stabilize our blood sugar levels, keeping us more full and satisfied throughout the night."

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Turkey and whole grain crackers

A close up of sliced deli turkey in packaging

While a whole sandwich may be too heavy for a midnight snack, you don't have to avoid deli meats entirely. Grasso suggests combining sliced turkey with whole-grain crackers as a quick bite instead.

"Again, the reason we're reaching for that whole grain variety is because it's going to pack a little more fiber and a little more protein, stabilizing blood sugar levels," she says. "The turkey has tryptophan in it, which is a precursor and can contribute to the production of serotonin and melatonin—two hormones that are really important in terms of falling asleep."

However, you should be a little mindful when shopping at the deli counter. "When it comes to turkey, what I look for is low sodium and then nitrate-free," she suggests.

Dark chocolate, greek yogurt, peanut butter, and apple bowls

stack of chocolate pieces

Anyone with a soft spot for chocolate knows there's not an hour of the day when a craving won't strike. Fortunately, you can still work with that when considering a healthy late-night snack.

"Dark chocolate in moderation can actually be a really beneficial bedtime snack," says Grasso. "It contains some precursors to those beneficial hormones melatonin and serotonin."

Her favorite way to eat dark chocolate chips as a bedtime bite is to mix them into vanilla Greek yogurt with peanut butter and dip an apple in it.

"You're also packing in some fiber from the apple, some micronutrients from the apple, plus you're getting some more protein from that Greek yogurt," she explains. "It's a really filling, really delicious, sweet little treat snack."

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Cottage cheese and fruit

A bowl of cottage cheese with mixed berries on top

Not a fan of Greek yogurt? Cottage cheese is another dairy-based option for the all-important protein part of the late-night snack equation. Beyond that, Grasso says all you have to do is mix in your favorite fruit.

"Cottage cheese is packed with protein, which once again is going to help stabilize out those blood sugar levels—not to mention if you add some fruit in there, you're going to pack some fiber, some micro [nutrients], and you're going to help really benefit your body while you sleep," she explains.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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