Like most people, there have probably been times that you find yourself hungry right at bedtime. Everyone knows that eating close to bedtime can cause excess weight gain, but what are you supposed to do when hunger pains hit and prevent you from going to sleep? Instead of reaching for an unhealthy snack laden with calories, try one of these healthy midnight snacks. They are packed with nutrients to help you get to sleep while minimizing your calorie intake.
Before we delve into the top five healthy midnight snacks, let’s take a look at why you get hungry at bedtime. In today’s busy society, many people do not have set meal times. When you have scheduled meal times, your body becomes accustomed to eating at certain times. Without scheduled meal times, hunger can strike at any time, including at or near your bedtime.
Another common reason for hunger pains at bedtime is dehydration. To determine if your hunger pains are actually linked to dehydration, drink a glass of water and wait 15 minutes. Does the water satiate you? If so, you were dehydrated and you can head to bed without snacking. If you are still feeling hungry, then go ahead and enjoy one of the snacks listed below.
1. Say Cheese!
Mozzarella cheese is a great late night snack. It is low in calorie and is a great source of protein and fat to help you feel satiated. The protein found in cheese is a slow digesting protein, which means it will prevent hunger for hours and may help ease heartburn at bedtime.
The calcium and magnesium in cheese helps to build strong bones and may help you get to sleep and stay asleep. In fact, research has shown that a calcium deficiency may prevent you from going into REM sleep. A magnesium deficiency can lead to insomnia. Magnesium can help ensure that you sleep better, deeper and wake less. Finally, cheese contains the amino acid tryptophan, which can help you get to sleep faster and sleep more soundly.
2. Celebrate Cereal
Oats contain melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep and wake cycles. The combination of protein and carbs in a bowl of cereal will help you go to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The fiber in this type of cereal will regulate your glucose levels by slowing down the absorption of the sugar in the cereal.
Enjoy a half cup of milk over your cereal to provide you with tryptophan and calcium. If you have trouble digesting dairy products, try soy milk instead. Soy milk contains approximately the same amount of tryptophan as cow’s milk. This means even those with dairy sensitivities can reap the benefits of cow’s milk without suffering from digestive disturbances.
3. Get Your Greek On!
Greek yogurt is another great midnight snack. A serving of low sugar Greek yogurt contains only 150 calories. This means you can harness the power of protein and tryptophan without sacrificing your waistline. Adding some flaxseed to your Greek yogurt increases the healthy fats to supply you with a steady dose of protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. The carbohydrate in flaxseed will help your body absorb more tryptophan, thus increasing the amount of melatonin in the body.
This natural probiotic-rich snack is especially beneficial to those suffering from digestive issues. The probiotics will help restore gut health and improve nutrient absorption, so you can rest better.
4. Gobble Up Some Turkey
Turkey is another food item that is loaded with tryptophan. Think of how you feel after enjoying a Thanksgiving meal. Do you feel relaxed and sleepy? This is due to the naturally occurring tryptophan in turkey. In addition to this, a couple of slices of turkey (white meat only) has a little over 100 calories, making it the perfect midnight snack for those looking to lose weight.
The National Institutes of Health reports that over the last twenty years, numerous studies have been done on tryptophan and sleep. Tryptophan raises serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a brain chemical that promotes relaxation. Tryptophan increases sleepiness and decreases the amount of time it takes a person to go to sleep.
5. An Apple a Day
Apples do more than keep the doctor away. They also welcome the sandman so you can get to sleep sooner. Apples supply you with fiber to keep you feeling full while you sleep. Additionally, they are low in calories and have a low glycemic index. The natural sweetness of an apple will satisfy your sweet cravings.
In order to get the most out of an apple at bedtime, couple it with some peanut butter or another protein source. This slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream to help prevent an insulin spike. Additionally, the vitamin C found in apples lower blood pressure and improve respiration, which can help you to relax.
The vitamin B6 in an apple is a natural stress reducer and helps the body release serotonin. Finally, apples are 86 percent water and contain insoluble fiber. Eating an apple will stave off dehydration and the fiber will help your intestines retain water, which improves digestion.
Many people think that eating right before bedtime causes everything you eat to turn into fat. This is not true. Contact a certified nutritionist if you need further assistance. Even during sleep, your metabolism is active, turning calories into energy. Going to bed hungry can prevent you from sleeping soundly, and you will wake up fatigued and moody. Instead, eat a small healthy snack.
When it comes to late night or midnight snacking, you need a food that is low in calories and high in nutrients to help you get to sleep and stay asleep. Opt for a snack that contains complex carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats to stabilize glucose levels while you sleep.
Ben Hebin – a business and digital strategist who teaches small business owners, entrepreneurs and gutsy bloggers how to build businesses that captivate visitors and convert attention into sales.