When hunger strikes before bed, it can be tough to hunker down and fall asleep without having a nibble of something. Reaching for a nutritious piece of fruit is a better choice than downing an ice-cream bar or a cheeseburger, but it’s best to keep your serving sizes small to avoid a nighttime sugar rush and a calorie overload.
Fruits can be a healthy bedtime snack if you don’t go overboard with them. They’re full of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients that your body requires to function at its best, and they can actually make you healthier. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's ChooseMyPlate.gov website, eating regular servings of fruit may cut your risk of serious health conditions including kidney stones, stroke, heart disease, bone loss, diabetes and cancer. When you eat fruit in place of higher-calorie foods, you also facilitate healthy weight maintenance.
If you’re going to snack on fruit, be aware of what you’re eating. Most fruits are high in sugar and will raise your blood sugar level, which can be a concern if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Writing for CNN's website, Dr. Melina Jampolis also notes that eating more than three servings of fruit per day can interfere with healthy weight-loss efforts, particularly if you’re eating too much fruit and not enough vegetables. To take the edge off hunger, try limiting the fruit you eat after dinner to 1/2 cup or less, and choose an especially low-calorie fruit if you’re trying to lose weight. Or skip the fruit altogether and have a small helping of fresh veggies.
Knowing how many calories and how much sugar is in a particular type of fruit can help you make smart choices when you get hungry at bedtime. The USDA reports that a medium apple has about 95 calories and 19 g of sugar, and a medium banana has 105 calories and 14.5 g of sugar. Other fruits offer fewer calories and slightly less sugar per serving. A cup of strawberries has only about 55 calories and 8 g of sugar, and a cup of watermelon has 45 calories and 9.5 g of sugar.
In addition to thinking about the sugar and calorie contents of the fruit you eat at night, be mindful of how bedtime snacking affects your sleep. While a small snack can help some people sleep better, especially if it contains a mix of carbohydrates and tryptophan, others may find eating before bed gives them indigestion, according to HelpGuide.org. If you’re experiencing insomnia or other sleep issues and you feel they might be exacerbated by eating fruit before bed, speak with your doctor.