Is the desire for a midnight snack waking you up at night? You may believe giving into midnight snack cravings will pack on the pounds. But rest assured, healthy midnight snacks don’t have to counteract your weight loss efforts!
Furthermore, trying to sleep when hungry can cause unrestful sleep, leaving the body sluggish and tired the following day.
If you desire healthy midnight snacks, be encouraged to reach for these midnight snack ideas that are healthy and can help you get back to sleep!
11 Healthy Midnight Snacks for Better Sleep and Health
When the craving for a midnight snack hits, turn to these healthy options to fuel your body with nutrients and make going back to sleep easy.
1. Warm Cup of Oatmeal
Let the warmth of oatmeal soothe you back to sleep. Since this complex carb is loaded with fiber, hunger will remain at bay until breakfast time.
Naturally elevate the nutritional profile and flavor by drizzling favorite nut butter, berries, cinnamon, and other favorite oatmeal toppings. Just steer away from adding sugar or pre-sweetened oatmeal packets.
Also add a splash of milk for added sleep benefit, as the calcium-booster is also a natural source of tryptophan. Pairing tryptophan with carbohydrates increases the bioavailability of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays an integral role in sleep regulation.
2. Banana Shake
This midnight snacking idea may sound bananas, but hear us out! Milk is an excellent source of sleep-inducing tryptophan, while the carb content from the banana can help unveil greater serotonin levels much like that warm cup of oatmeal.
And not to mention, bananas are a rich source of potassium and magnesium, two minerals that act as muscle relaxants.
Preparing banana milk is simple: Combine a ripe banana and a cup of milk in a blender until smooth. Make a golden banana milk by adding turmeric, a spice shown to induce a calming effect, and black pepper, which assists in the absorption of turmeric. Also enhance flavor with vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, and ginger as desired.
3. Whey Protein Shake
Slugging down whey protein is much more than a post-workout rhythm for muscle growth, as whey protein has been shown to reduce appetite more than tuna or eggs according to a 2010 study.
Besides, drinking a whey protein shake is fast and expedient, which leverages more time to fall into dreamland.
4. Tuna Salad
While whey protein suppressed appetite more than the other protein sources, tuna still is a great option for a healthy midnight snack. Tuna is a natural source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and high omega-3 levels have been shown to be significantly associated with better sleep according to research from the University of Oxford.
Select tuna soaked in water, rather than oil, to reduce unwanted fat calories. Also look for the blue Certified Sustainable food label, BPA-free indication on packaging labels, and "light" or "white" tuna products that are naturally low in mercury.
For a quick midnight snack idea, make tuna salad ahead of time. Simply mix a 5-ounce can of wild albacore tuna with a small avocado, diced carrots and celery, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
Complement with a fiber-filled carb source for a light meal or snack, including whole grain crackers, sliced bell peppers, cucumbers, or carrot sticks.
5. Scrambled Eggs and Whole Grain English Muffin
Eggs are low in calories, packed with protein, and provide tryptophan making them a top choice for a healthy late-night snack. Top scrambled eggs onto half of a whole grain English muffin for a greater release of serotonin and calming effect.
For added convenience, keep hardboiled eggs prepared in bulk and stocked for an easy midnight snack idea. You can also pair them with a slice of wheat toast or sprouted crackers.
6. Boiled Potatoes
Whereas potatoes are often scrutinized for their high-carb content, they can be a healthy go-to for a nighttime snack.
In a study that measured the satiating index of 38 foods, including fruits and protein-rich foods, people ranked boiled potatoes highest, reporting that they felt fuller and ate less than two hours after consuming them.
What's more, potatoes are chockfull of fiber and other nutrients that supply steady energy and lasting fullness. They are also packed with potassium!
Add flavor to potatoes with favorite spices and seasonings, along with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of part-skim cheese for greater satiety. Boil potatoes ahead of time and keep them on hand in the refrigerator for an easy option to quickly heat up at night.
7. Leftover Soup
Heat up a cup of that leftover batch of soup for a quick midnight snack that also supports weight loss. Not only is the warmth soothing, but the high-water content of a low-calorie, broth-based soup can fill up the stomach without packing on calories.
Pro tip: Bulk soup with veggies and beans for extra satiety-inducing fiber and protein. Choose a bone broth for a base instead of cream to keep it light and even more protein.
8. A Square or Two of Dark Chocolate
Sometimes cravings resemble hunger and sometimes those cravings are towards chocolate…
Amidst such temptation at night, go for a piece of dark chocolate when the craving hits. Research shows dark chocolate promotes satiety, lowers the desire to eat something sweet, and suppresses energy intake compared with milk.
And not only can that chocolate craving be kicked, but can likewise be done so in a healthy manner. Dark chocolate contains both saturated and monounsaturated fats, along with a healthy dose of various vitamins and minerals and powerful antioxidants.
To ensure a low-carb, late-night snack, look for dark chocolate products with minimal added sugars and relish on a square or two. If needed, pair with a tablespoon of nut butter for a more filling and healthy midnight snack.
9. Bowl of Popcorn
Craving something salty and crunchy? Drop the chip bag and reach for the popcorn! Three cups of those air-popped kernels clock in at just under 100 calories!
Unlike most packaged snacks, popcorn takes up more room in your stomach to help you feel full without skyrocketing calorie intake.
For added flavor, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and other preferred seasonings you have on hand.
10. Yogurt with Berries
Though too much protein may be a little tough on the stomach prior to bed, a small cup of Greek yogurt induces satiety to relieve that nighttime hunger. The yogurt offers the amino acid tryptophan, and the berries provide extra carbohydrates to help with sleep. Berries also add antioxidants which can help protect the body from inflammation.
And rather than going strictly for a nonfat option, choose yogurt with some of its fat retained to induce satiety even further.
Just stay cautious of any yogurt loaded with added sugars. Offer natural sweetness by making a light yogurt bowl with a ½ cup of berries, light drizzle of honey, and a dash of cinnamon.
11. BistroMD Snacks
If you want even more quick and healthy midnight snack options, consider BistroMD Essential and Tasty Snacks (EATS) snacks. Each snack option is designed to provide 10 to 15 grams of protein from grass-fed whey, non-GMO soy, nuts & seeds, and nitrate-free cured meats. These snacks are still low calories, about 150 calories each.
Choose from protein bars, healthy granola, nut mixes, protein chips, and more!
Still Can't Sleep? More Tips for Improved Sleep
If a healthy midnight snack is not helping get quality sleep, consult with a doctor for troubleshooting any underlying health conditions. Additionally, these tips can also help improve sleep:
• Drink a glass of water: Since hunger can be mistaken for thirst, try drinking a glass of water or a warm cup of tea. If you still feel hungry, go for that healthy midnight snack.
• Rethink alcohol: Alcohol can disrupt sleep cycles and increase appetite.
• Stay consistent with sleep and wake times: Doing so helps regulate sleep cycles.
• Avoid large meals before bedtime: Even though small snacks can fit into a nightly routine, avoid heavy dinners and meals right before you lay down. Try to consume a larger meal at least 4 hours prior to rest.
• Limit caffeine: Too much caffeine in the afternoon or evening may interfere with and disrupt precious sleep cycles. Limit caffeine consumption after morning hours to help encourage a more restful night.
• Exercise daily: Keeping active is a proven method to support healthier sleep cycles.
• Cut off screen time at least an hour before bedtime: The blue light that emits from TVs, cell phones, and other electronics can interfere with circadian rhythms, and the natural sleep and wake cycles.
• Create a comfortable sleep environment: Keep the room dark and cool, along with the mattresses and pillows supportive.
Healthy Midnight Snacks Recap
When you wake up in the middle of the night hungry don’t always try to avoid the feeling! Turn to healthy snack options to meet your hunger while also helping you go back to bed.
Combining foods higher in protein, like dairy, whey, eggs, or tuna, with higher fiber carbohydrate sources like whole grains, fruits, or vegetables can provide the right equation for keeping you feel full.
These foods are naturally lower in calories keeping these snacks a healthy choice for weight loss or overall health.
If you still have trouble falling asleep, taking a closer look and tweaking habits before bedtime and throughout the day can help promote better sleep.
'Higher Levels of Omega-3 in Diet Associated with Better Sleep'. University of Oxford. Published March 6, 2014. https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2014-03-06-higher-levels-omega-3-diet-associated-better-sleep.
Pal S, Ellis V. The acute effects of four protein meals on insulin, glucose, appetite and energy intake in Lean Men. The British journal of nutrition. Published October 2010. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20456814/
Sørensen LB, Astrup A. Eating dark and milk chocolate: A randomized crossover study of effects on appetite and Energy Intake. Nutrition & diabetes. Published December 5, 2011. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3302125/.