We’ve all been there: Standing at the open fridge, staring hopelessly into its fluorescent glow, and seeing…what? A soggy slice of leftover pizza? A half-eaten apple pie? Then we turn to the cupboard, where the cookies and potato chips are kept, and you know what happens next: We eat them!
Even if you enjoy a healthy, filling dinner, hunger can still take hold in the hours before bedtime.
All too often, we turn to foods that contain excess salt, sugar and saturated fat. Eating too many of these unhealthy snacks can have serious health consequences in the long run, and they are particularly bad calls before bed. Salt disrupts sleep and makes you turn in later than you should. Likewise, a late sugary dessert can cause you to wake up more frequently during the night and disrupt deep sleep, making you feel exhausted the next day. Fatty foods, meanwhile, are more likely to cause weight gain when they’re eaten before bed. Plus, they’re relatively difficult to digest and are more likely to cause heartburn, which makes it harder to get to sleep.
The good news is that it’s easy to turn this double whammy of unhealthy-snack drawbacks into a healthy win-win. The snacks listed below are not only tasty, easy-to-prepare and good for you, but they can also improve sleep quality. And if you look a little closer (and throw out that pizza already), many of the ingredients you need to make these healthy snacks could be in your fridge or cupboard right now! What are healthy snacks to eat before bed? Read on to find out…
Oatmeal with honey and sliced bananas
Warm, comforting, quick and easy to make, oatmeal is also rich in vitamins, minerals and amino acids that promote the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Bananas, meanwhile, are rich in magnesium, which relaxes muscles, and they also contain melatonin and serotonin, another sleep-regulating hormone. Drizzle it all with honey, and you get delicious natural sweetness and a proven sleep booster.
Cherry, walnut and yogurt smoothie
Speaking of quick and easy, simply tossing three ingredients in a blender and firing it up for a few seconds is about as good as it gets. The handful of pitted cherries in this mix naturally boosts your body’s melatonin levels, with research showing that the sweet fruit helps fight off insomnia. As well as being packed with protein, walnuts are a solid source of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps produce serotonin and melatonin. The yogurt also contains tryptophan, along with calcium that helps strengthen your bones and teeth.
Tuna on whole-grain toast
As well as being packed with protein and healthy omega-3 fats, canned tuna is high in vitamin B6, which your body needs to make melatonin and serotonin. Fork some onto whole-grain toast, and you add sleep-inducing tryptophan to the savoury snack, along with fibre, vitamins and minerals.