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5 Healthy Midnight Snacks That Also Help You Fall Asleep

Man peering into a fridge at food.
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Once in a while, we all get a snack attack at night. Whether you’re craving something salty or sweet, it’s hard to stir away from easy choices like cookies and chips. Yet, there are some healthier options that can both curb your craving and help you fall asleep faster.

What You Should and Shouldn’t Eat Before Bed

Going to bed on an empty stomach is never a good idea, especially after a long and stressful day. Hunger can prevent you from relaxing, and it can keep you up for long if you ignore it.

While comfort food (aka junk food) is always the most appealing solution, it’s not exactly the most beneficial for your body. Sugary foods, highly processed fats, caffeine, and alcohol can all make you temporarily happy, but they prevent you from having a good night’s sleep.

Eating foods rich in tryptophan and melatonin is the answer. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means our body cannot synthesize it. It stimulates the production of serotonin and melatonin, two hormones that help regulate mood and sleep, respectively. Melatonin can also be purchased as a supplement to treat insomnia and jet lag.

Below are five foods you can reach for next time you’re in the mood for a snack before bed.

Bananas

Chopped banana.

We often think of bananas as an energizer, the kind of pick-me-up we use to prepare us for a good workout.

However, bananas have a lot more to offer. Not only are they high in both magnesium and potassium, which can help your muscles relax, but they also contain tryptophan, the precursor to our beloved sleep hormones. A medium-size banana contains 11 milligrams of it.

It might not be as exciting as cookies, but at least it’ll help curb your sweet tooth and ease you into the land of dreams. It’s a two-for-one deal that’s hard to refuse!

Milk

You might have heard that drinking a glass before bed can help you fall asleep easier. Well, it’s not simple speculation. Milk is an excellent source of tryptophan, especially whole milk, which contains a whopping 732 milligrams per quart.

Milk with lower fat percentages has a little less, but it’s still a relatively high amount that can help you on your quest to enjoy a good night’s sleep. Warm it up to ramp up the cozy factor, and you’re golden!

Healthy Carbs

Two slices of toast in a toaster.
Amarita/Shutterstock

Whether it’s day or night, it’s hard to say no to carbs. They’re filling, they’re tasty, and they make you happy.

However, refined sugars can have the opposite effect on your sleeping patterns as well as on your metabolism. They can cause your blood sugar to spike very quickly and keep you awake for a while. Luckily, there are great options that are both enjoyable and can lull you to sleep in no time.

Oats, for instance, contain 147 milligrams of tryptophan per cup, while whole wheat bread contains 19 milligrams of tryptophan per slice. Enjoy either with some milk or yogurt, and you’ve got the perfect late-night snack.

Walnuts

Walnuts are an excellent choice for a hearty snack before bed. They’re high in the two main components you should always look for in a nighttime nibble: tryptophan (318 milligrams per handful) and melatonin, as confirmed by this study at the University of Texas.

It’s worth noting that nuts are also high in fat, so sticking to one serving per night should be enough to get you all the benefits you’re after. These two bags of walnuts could easily last you a few weeks.

Seeds

Two small pumpkins surrounded by pumpkin seeds.
Chamille White/Shutterstock

This option might not sound particularly filling, but seeds get the job done. Packed with tryptophan, seeds are the perfect addition to your evening snack drawer.

You don’t have to eat them alone, either. Add some to your bowl of oats with milk or sprinkle them over some yogurt. That’s the beauty of seeds—you can get creative with them!

Sesame seeds have the highest tryptophan content, with 1,000 milligrams per 100 grams. Second place is reserved for chia seeds, followed by pumpkin. Pick one or all, as any of them will help you get to snooze town.

This big bag of chia seeds is ideal for those who enjoy sprinkling them on everything or love chia pudding—another great option for a late-night snack!


If you’re a late-night snacker, this list will help you stock your cupboard with just the right healthy foods to satisfy your cravings and help you get some z’s.

Carla Cometto Carla Cometto
Carla has been writing professionally for five years and blogging for many more. She's worked as a journalist, photographer, and translator. She's also an avid traveler who hopes to inspire a sense of curiosity and adventure in others through her writing. Read Full Bio »

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