You know that feeling you get when you’re supposed to be winding down, but all you can think about is chowing down?
If it’s close to bedtime but your rumbling tummy disagrees, you may be wondering what the best healthy late-night snack options are.
Thankfully, there are plenty of snacks and easy-to-make recipes that can satisfy your hunger without sabotaging your sleep.
But first, you should know what to avoid.
Foods to avoid before bed
Skip the following when it comes to pre-bedtime snacking:
- Foods and drinks that contain stimulating caffeine (including chocolate — sorry!).
- Foods high in refined sugar, such as ice cream, cookies, or candy. One study associated frequent consumption of things like sugar-sweetened beverages with poor sleep quality.
- Spicy foods, fried foods, or any foods that can cause heartburn or indigestion.
- Alcohol, which disrupts natural sleep cycles.
- Foods with high water content, to avoid overnight bathroom trips.
- Foods high in sodium, as they can be dehydrating.
What to look for in your healthy late-night snacks
Next, look for snacks that can support your sleep cycle instead of harm it. Sleep patterns are controlled by hormones in the body, and your diet can have a direct effect on this hormone production.
The main contributors to healthy sleep patterns, common in the snacks listed below, include:
- Melatonin, a hormone that controls the body’s internal clock.
- Serotonin, the mood-regulating hormone that helps the body produce melatonin.
- Tryptophan, an amino acid that you can only get from foods, which helps the body produce both melatonin and serotonin.
Additionally, many vitamins, nutrients, and amino acids found in foods can directly control melatonin and serotonin production. These sleep-supporting nutrients include calcium, vitamin B6, antioxidants, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, and magnesium, to name a few.
So go ahead and satisfy that midnight craving — just be sure to choose late-night snacks that won’t disrupt your sleep.
15 late-night snacks that won’t disrupt your sleep
1. Seed and nut trail mix
Nuts such as pistachios and walnuts are one of the best sources of the “sleep hormone,” melatonin. Additionally, nuts — particularly almonds and cashews — contain the sleep-aiding mineral magnesium. On the seed-y side, pumpkin seeds are packed with three sleep supporters: tryptophan, magnesium, and zinc.
Snack on a handful of nuts, top some whole-grain toast with creamy homemade almond butter, or whip up a sweet and simple trail mix by combining 2 cups of mixed nuts, ½ cup of pumpkin seeds, ½ cup of sunflower seeds, and 1 cup of unsweetened dried fruit to keep on hand for late-night noshes.
2. Protein shake
Sipping on a small protein shake before bed comes with a few benefits. Not only can it help with muscle growth and recovery while you snooze, but soy-based protein powder contains a significant amount of tryptophan, which can also aid in sleep quality. Just make sure to use a slowly digestible protein, like milk, and avoid added sugar.
Craving a snack that tastes more like a dessert? Add a frozen banana!
3. Banana or kiwi
To keep things simple, snack on a banana before bed. Bananas contain tryptophan, magnesium, and potassium — which can help your muscles relax and prevent sleep disturbances throughout the night.
A kiwi is another smart choice for satisfying a late-night fruit craving. This small but mighty fruit is packed with serotonin-producing compounds and high levels of anti-inflammatory antioxidants. One study found that consuming kiwi before bed for a month led to participants sleeping 13% longer and falling asleep 42% faster
4. Mini cheese plate
A cheese plate is a sleep-friendly snack, thanks to dairy foods being excellent sources of tryptophan, calcium, vitamin D, and melatonin. Pair a 1-ounce serving of cheese with a few nuts, some fruit, or a couple of whole-grain crackers. Eating proteins with carbohydrates allows tryptophan to more easily enter the brain and promote restful Zzz’s.
5. Whole-grain cereal with milk
Touted as a sleep aid for centuries, milk contains the dynamic duo of calcium and tryptophan. Whole grains help the neurons in the brain process tryptophan. We recommend sticking with a low-sugar, whole-grain cereal (or making your own!).
6. Sleepy bites
“Sleepy bites” are the new 9 p.m.-approved snack. They’re chewy, not-too-sweet balls that can combine nutritious sleep-enhancing ingredients into bite-size rounds held together by dates or nut butter. You can customize your bites with any sleep-supporting mix you can imagine, including oats, nuts, seeds, honey, bananas, and more.
7. Moon milk
If you love the calming notion of a warm cup of milk before bed, try moon milk, which can be made from a variety of sleep-supporting foods, teas, and milks (both dairy and plant-based). Sip some warmed banana milk, calming lavender milk, or this turmeric and ashwagandha blend before turning in.
Looking for a dairy-free option? Check out our recipe below for the Simple Golden Milkshake.
8. Hummus and whole-grain crackers
Like all proteins, chickpeas contain tryptophan. But this legume also contains melatonin-producing B vitamins that have been shown to aid in healthy sleep patterns.
9. Hard-boiled egg
Hard-boiled eggs might seem like a strange late-night snack. But eggs, packed with over a dozen essential nutrients and vitamins, help the body produce melatonin; plus, they’re super convenient and easy to prep ahead. Dress up your hard-boiled egg with a pinch of DIY Everything Bagel Seasoning.
The complex carbs in popcorn help the brain access tryptophan and produce serotonin. We suggest skipping buttery or sweetened kettle corn varieties when it comes to bedtime snacks. Instead, season popcorn with fresh herbs, spices, or nutritional yeast (which is rich in B vitamins).
11. Sweet potato “chips”
If you typically crave chips as a late-night snack, try swapping them for oven-baked or air-fried sweet potato chips. Sweet potatoes are rich sources of sleep-promoting magnesium, potassium, calcium, and B vitamins. Craving something on the sweeter side? Top a quarter of a baked sweet potato with nut butter and a drizzle of honey.
For a more substantial evening bite, check out the recipe for sweet potato toast with almond butter below.
12. Green smoothie
A green smoothie for a late-night snack? Hear us out. Greens (such as kale and spinach) are full of antioxidants, magnesium, and calcium, all of which positively affect sleep cycles. In fact, both potassium and magnesium deficiencies have been linked to insomnia. Try sipping a sleep-friendly potassium smoothie before bed.
13. Figs and honey
Figs have an impressive amount of sleep-promoting potassium, in addition to magnesium and calcium. Figs pair beautifully with honey, which assists the brain in producing melatonin.
Drizzle or roast juicy fresh figs with honey, or turn dried figs into a healthy, five-ingredient Fig Newton-inspired snack.
14. Pineapple pops
Watch out, insomnia: Pineapple can increase melatonin levels by an impressive 266%. However, since pineapples are highly acidic, they may not be the best choice before bed for those who suffer from acid reflux.
If you fare well with this tropical fruit, try dipping thin pineapple slices in yogurt, coating them in coconut flakes, and freezing them.
15. Frozen grapes
Grapes not only contain natural sources of melatonin, but they’re a delicious, refreshing, and easy snack. Try freezing them for a frosty treat on a warm evening or top a small bowl of cottage cheese with halved grapes.
Easy Bedtime Snack Recipes
Want to nosh on something that feels a bit less grab and go? The recipes below include a few of our favorite foods that support sleep.
Simple Golden Milkshake
Part delicious milkshake, part anti-inflammatory and sleep-inducing powerhouse, this after-dinner treat will have you drifting off to dreamland in no time.
- 2 cups almond milk
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 2 cups coconut cream
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 bananas
- ¼ cup almond butter
- 6 pitted Medjool dates
- 2 cups ice
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the almond milk, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper. Stir frequently until the mixture reaches a simmer, then allow it to cool completely in the fridge for one hour. (Tip: Prep this earlier in the night for a faster result later.)
- In a mixing bowl, add the coconut cream, maple syrup, and vanilla extract. Use an electric mixer to whisk until fluffy. (Tip: You can also prep this earlier and keep in the fridge, covered, until ready to use.)
- In a blender, combine the bananas, almond butter, dates, and ice. Add the cooled almond milk mixture to the blender and blend until smooth.
- Pour into glasses, top with coconut milk whipped cream, and enjoy!
Sweet Potato Toast with Almond Butter
This is a nourishing take on toast that’s chockful of healthy ingredients that will help you get to sleep more quickly. It’s served warm and toasty, which can help comfort the body before bedtime. Plus, it includes one of our sleep-supporting faves, cherries.
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 3 tbsp almond butter
- 1 tbsp honey, plus more for garnish
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 banana, sliced
- Dried cherries, for garnish
- Sliced almonds, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, almond butter, honey, and cinnamon. Set aside.
- Thinly slice the sweet potato vertically into about ¼-inch slices. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until tender and golden brown, flipping once halfway through.
- Spread a thin layer of the yogurt mixture on the toasted sweet potato, and top with the banana, cherries, almonds, a drizzle of honey, and dash of cinnamon.
Greek Yogurt with Slivered Almonds and Berries
Here’s another sleep-supporting dairy snack, this one packed with protein. What we love about Greek yogurt is how easy and versatile it is. What’s more, nuts are rich in healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids, which promote the body’s natural production of serotonin, making this delicious combination a perfect bedtime snack.
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp slivered almonds
- 1/3 cup mixed berries
- Honey to top, optional
- In a small bowl, add the yogurt. Top with the slivered almonds, mixed berries, and a drizzle of honey if you like a bit more sweetness.
Whole-Wheat Toast with Almond Butter and Sliced Bananas
Another classic combination that doubles as a surprisingly helpful bedtime snack is none other than whole-grain toast with almond butter and bananas. Whole grains have been proven to encourage insulin production, which stimulates tryptophan.
- 1 slice whole-wheat toast
- 2 tbsp almond butter
- ½ banana, sliced
- Toast the bread.
- Spread almond butter and top with sliced banana.
Time it right
When snacking close to bedtime, be mindful of how much and when you eat, as well as what you eat.
It’s best to enjoy your late-night nibbles 30-to-60 minutes before bed, which gives your body some time to digest before lying down. And don't go overboard — most recommendations for bedtime snacks clock in at around 200 to 300 calories (though of course you should also take your individual needs and activity levels into account).
Additional reporting by Sam Negrin.