We’ve all been there: You finally get the kids in bed. You attempt to watch that new episode of a TV show that you’ve been saving, but end up missing major plot points because you’re also taking the time to catch up on emails. You fall asleep sitting up, then wake up when your exhausted neck decides it can’t continue to support your head. So you get up, do a half-assed job brushing your teeth, put on something that might pass for pajamas, and crawl into bed.
And as soon as you get settled, you feel it: Your stomach is growling. You consider getting up for a late-night snack, but you’re too tired, and try to ignore it. Maybe you fall asleep for a few minutes, but quickly realize that you’re legitimately hungry, and now, you can’t think of anything else. But you don’t want to wander into the kitchen and eat whatever junk you find: you want the best late-night snack. Here are a few suggestions for healthy snacks you’ll want to keep stocked at home for midnight hankerings.
Healthy Late-Night Snacks: Savory
If you’re looking for healthy midnight snacks that also happen to be savory, you’re not limited to ones that are also super salty and will cause you to drink a lot of water — and then spend the rest of the night running to the bathroom. Here are some of your options:
- Carrots and dip: Keep a bag of baby carrots (or some that are already peeled and cut into sticks) in the fridge for some late-night crunching. Dip them in your favorite salad dressing (ranch is the classic choice here).
- String cheese: It’s not just for the kids’ lunches: string cheese comes in handy when you’re feeling peckish at night.
- Celery and peanut butter: Again, this is a snack usually associated with children, but there’s no rule saying that you can’t munch on some celery filled with peanut butter. And sure: go ahead and add raisins for the full ants-on-a-log experience.
- Popcorn: You’re not going to have the energy (or coordination) required to make fresh popcorn on the stove at this hour, but you can keep some already-popped popcorn in the cupboard for moments like this.
- A handful of almonds: Or there’s walnuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, hazelnuts, unsalted (or low-salt) peanuts, or mixed nuts.
- Trail mix: If it can keep you going while you’re out on a hike, it should be able to fill you up before going back to bed.
- Hummus: There’s probably hummus in your fridge. Go ahead and dip something in it, like cut-up vegetables, crackers, tortilla chips, pretzels — whatever you’ve got.
- Cheese and crackers: You really can’t go wrong.
Healthy Late-Night Snacks: Sweet
Have a sweet tooth, but want to avoid reaching for sugary snacks at night? Don’t worry: there are plenty of options out there that will satisfy your cravings without giving you a late-night sugar rush. Here are a few you might want to try:
- Apple slices and peanut butter: Or, if you don’t have the energy to cut up an apple, just eat one bite-by-bite and occasionally eat a spoon of peanut butter. No judgment here.
- Applesauce: Sweet and simple. Just spoon it in your mouth.
- Banana: You can even bring a banana to bed with you and put it on your nightstand, in the event that you get hungry but are too tired to move.
- Almond butter with fruit: Peanut butter not your thing? Substitute in almond butter for a slightly different flavor.
- Grapes: Quick and tasty.
- Raisins: Also quick and tasty — except dry.
- Cottage cheese and fruit: Not everyone is a fan of cottage cheese, but if you are, it makes a great healthy late-night snack.
- Yogurt: A super-easy option — especially if you have individual cups of yogurt ready-to-go.
- Oats: Oatmeal isn’t just for the morning! It can be a great nighttime snack as well. A warm bowl of oatmeal may be just what you need to fall asleep. According to a Columbia University study, the carbs in oatmeals help your brain release serotonin, which allows the body to relax and fall asleep. It’s also filled with antioxidants and fiber.
Enjoy your late-night nosh!
Is it unhealthy to go to bed hungry?
Sometimes you don’t have time for a midnight snack, and you fall asleep with a grumbling belly. There’s nothing really wrong with going to bed hungry, as long as you eat nutrient-filled meals throughout the day. However, if you’re hungry, you should always eat. And eating at night doesn’t automatically maximize your calorie intake. The problem is people tend to choose less healthy snacks in the evenings.
How many hours before bed should I eat?
Before going to bed, give your stomach a chance to digest its food properly. To avoid stomach issues, close the kitchen and finish eating about three hours before bedtime. But remember, being hungry before bed can keep you awake, so if you need a small snack, grab a fruit or vegetable. It’ll calm your hunger and help you fall asleep.