When it comes to snacking within an hour or two of your bedtime, there's a few things to consider: First, research does link late-night calories to the potential for weight gain. One study found that eating right before turning in can make your snooze time more restless, and that sets you up for fatigue and bingeing the next day. Also, late-night noshing tends to be associated with stress eating, which leads to overindulging in high-fat comfort calories.
On the other hand, trying to catch shuteye when your stomach is making scary growling sounds isn't a smart idea, either. Your sleep quality will suffer, and you'll feel tired and famished in the morning—both of which can lead you to overdo it and mess up your healthy-eating plans. The solution: Reach for one of these low-calorie, sleep-inducing snacks that won't have you wake up feeling bloated, suggests Philadelphia-based nutritionist Janet Brill, author of Blood Pressure Down.
Sure, it's processed, but hear us out: One serving of this snack contains filling protein and fat, so you feel satiated—and it only packs about 80 calories. Cheese also packs the amino acid tryptophan, which may help make you drowsy, says Brill.
A Bowl of Cereal
Put down the Coco Pops—all that sugar might leave you too wired to sleep (and also give you a stomach ache). We're talking about the whole-grain, complex carb kind (think oatmeal or corn or bran flakes) that's easy to digest and gives you 200 calories or less per bowl, says Brill. Pour in a little milk for extra tryptophan and protein.
Two Slices of White-Meat Turkey
Turkey is loaded with sleep-inducing tryptophan (no wonder you're so sleepy after those massive holiday dinners, right?) and low-fat, high-quality protein, says Brill. A few slices won't run you more than 100 calories.
An Apple with a Spoonful of Peanut Butter
Apples have lots of fiber and a satisfying crunch. "The protein in the peanut or almond butter also fills you up without feeling heavy in your stomach," says Brill.
Super-nutritious with lots of crunch, these little orange guys will fill you up long enough so you doze off, says Brill. And all for eight fat-free calories per carrot.
Nonfat Greek Yogurt
For about 100 to 150 calories, you get the relaxing powers of tryptophan from the dairy, as well as satisfying protein, says Brill. Plus, yogurt can help calm your stomach, so you're less likely to wake up with heartburn or indigestion and instead can score a good night's rest.
Not only are bananas loaded with satiating fiber and relaxing tryptophan (for only about 100 calories each), but they're the perfect late-night nosh if you've already cleaned up your kitchen. You won't leave behind any dishes or utensils to wash!
Now that you know the best snacks for late-night healthy eating, check out the worst foods to eat close to bedtime, plus healthy sleep habits that will make it easier to fall asleep and wake up feeling rested.