Late-night snacking doesn't necessarily lead to putting on unwanted pounds. Since your body loses vitamins while you sleep, eating a nutritious snack before bedtime is actually good for you. The key is to avoid unhealthy snacking and eat foods that are rich in essential nutrients. Certain foods can even help you sleep better.
Snacks that contain high amounts of sugar cause your blood sugar to fluctuate. Blood sugar levels that rise and fall can keep you awake. Eating less sugar will help you control your weight as well. If you are watching the number of calories you consume each day, fruits and vegetables make tasty late-night snacks that are high in nutritional value. Apples and oranges are foods low in calories and fat that can satisfy your craving for something sweet. Dried figs, dates and prunes are other healthy bedtime snack choices.
When you are hungry for a late-night snack, choose foods that contain tryptophan, an amino acid that stimulates the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps calm you and make you sleepy. Nuts increase serotonin production and leave you feeling full besides. A handful of nuts is also high in fiber and antioxidants. Low-fat milk, cheeses and yogurt are protein foods that contain a high level of tryptophan. Combine these foods with a complex carbohydrate and you will have yourself a healthy late-night snack to help you fall asleep.
Foods for Sleep
Bedtime snacks that can help you sleep include a warm glass of milk; a bowl of oatmeal, or other whole-grain cereal, with low-fat or nonfat milk; a banana or sliced apple with low-fat cheese; and peanut butter on whole-grain bread or crackers. Foods or food combinations that contain tryptophan, complex carbohydrates, calcium and lean protein are best. Eating a carbohydrate will help make the tryptophan more effective. If you are trying to lose weight, you may want to limit a bedtime snack to 100 calories. Even if you aren't counting calories, a late-night snack should not exceed 200 calories, advises nutrition expert Joy Bauer.
Foods That Disrupt Sleep
Avoid satisfying your late-night cravings with unhealthy food choices. Spicy foods can cause indigestion or heartburn and keep you awake. Foods high in fat take longer to digest; therefore, eating high-fat foods too close to bedtime can interfere with sleep. Beverages that contain caffeine have a stimulating effect that can keep you awake when it's time to go to sleep. If you have trouble staying asleep, avoid drinking alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol makes some people feel sleepy at first, but you usually wake up during the night once the sedating effect wears off. You may have to make multiple trips to the bathroom if you drink lots of liquids in the hours before going to bed. Stop drinking water and other fluids at least 90 minutes before turning in for the night.