25 Best Foods To Eat At Night To Keep You Healthy (And Help You Sleep)

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25 Healthy Foods You Can Eat At Night
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For when you've got those nighttime munchies!

By Tarah Chieffi

Does this sound familiar? It's 9 p.m., dinner is a distant memory, and your stomach starts to grumble. You begrudgingly make your way to bed and go to sleep hungry because you've heard over and over that eating after dinner is a no-no. 

Contrary to this outdated advice, certain foods can actually help you drift off to dreamland. You just have to choose the right foods in the right amounts. Each of these foods has the power to aid in digestion, stave off late-night hunger, or relax your body and mind.

Keep the serving sizes small — just a 100 to 200 calorie snack is all you need to reap the benefits of these nutritious foods and fall asleep with a happy belly and a smile on your face.

1. Walnuts

You may know tryptophan as the compound in turkey responsible for making you want to take a big ol’ nap after polishing off your second plate at Thanksgiving dinner, but walnuts are also high in melatonin. Pop a handful before bed to help you fall asleep peacefully.

2. Coconut.

The healthy fats in just a small spoonful of coconut butter or coconut oil can take the edge off of your nighttime hunger without spiking your blood sugar, which could cause you to wake up hungry in the middle of the night when your blood sugar comes crashing back down.

3. Ginger Tea

Ginger is a powerful digestive aid, known for naturally relieving an upset stomach and easing nausea. The best way to enjoy ginger before bed is by making this zingy root into a stomach-settling tea.

4. Turkey

Although not as high in tryptophan as walnuts, turkey is a good source of this sleep-inducing amino acid. The high protein content in a few slices of deli turkey will help you feel fuller for longer, too.

5. Bananas

Bananas are rich in both potassium and magnesium. Because they work together, both of these minerals are known for helping the body relax; a key ingredient for a good night’s sleep. Grab a banana before bed or blend up this healthy smoothie.

6. Avocado

Avocados not only provide a couple of the sleep-promoting compounds we’ve already covered, tryptophan and magnesium, they are also a filling source of healthy fats. You don’t need much, though — about 1/2 of an avocado sprinkled with pumpkin seeds or smeared on a slice of whole grain bread will have your head hitting the pillow in no time.


RELATED: The 10 Best Avocado Recipes For Healthy Snacking All Week


7. Pumpkin Seeds

We’re visiting our old friend tryptophan again. A small handful of pumpkin seeds delivers a big hit of this precursor to serotonin, which can then be converted into melatonin, the sleep hormone.

8. Spinach

Spinach before bed? Hear me out before you judge. Spinach is another food that is jam-packed with the natural sleep aids potassium and magnesium. Pop a few baked spinach chipsbefore hitting the hay or add spinach to a before-bed smoothie.

9. Cherries

Cherries are more than just an ice cream sundae topping! Studies have actually shown that sipping tart cherry juice (available at most grocery and health food stores) can increase both the duration and quality of sleep thanks to its high levels of melatonin and tryptophan.

10. Pickles

Pickles won't technically help you fall asleep, but the probiotics in naturally-fermented pickles (my favorite is the Bubbies brand) can help to increase your levels of good gut bugs, thus improving your digestion.

11. Yogurt

Yogurt, like other dairy foods, is another good source of tryptophan. Pair it with a handful of berries and walnuts for a sleepy-time parfait.

12. Whole Grain Crackers

You probably don't think of whole grains as a sleep-friendly food, but they are actually a great source of magnesium and vitamin B6. Just be sure the crackers you choose are made with 100% whole grains or you'll miss out on these benefits.


RELATED: 10 Mood-Boosting Foods (That Are Healthier Than Your Go-To Pint Of Ice Cream)


13. Milk

Thanks again to trytophan, milk may help you fall asleep easier. Sounds like the old wives' tale about drinking a warm glass of milk before bed may be true after all. 

14. Broccoli

Maybe broccoli doesn't sound like your idea of a bedtime snack, but it just happens to be another tryptophan-packed, sleep-friendly food. Just keep the portion size on the small side because the insoluble fiber in broccoli can be difficult for some people to digest.

15. Fatty Fish

Fish like salmon and tuna not only provide a hearty dose of tryptophan, they are also high in vitamin B6, which helps the body to make serotonin. If salmon isn't your idea of a snack, try adding salmon and broccoli to your dinner a couple nights a week to improve sleep quality.

16. Whole Grain Bread

Similar to whole grain crackers, whole grain bread also delivers vitamin B6 and magnesium, to help relax the body and increase production of melatonin. Try a slice of 100 percent whole grain bread with a tablespoon of peanut butter or mashed avocado to boost the combined power of these foods.

17. Olives

If you feel a bit of hunger creeping in before bed, pop a few olives to quiet your tummy. The healthy, mono-unsaturated fats in olives will help you feel full so you can fall asleep fast.

18. Whole Grain Cereal

Just to be clear, I'm not talking about a bowl of fruity marshmallow cereal before bed. A 100 percent whole grain cereal, like Kashi® 7 Whole Grain Puffs Cereal with a splash of milk delivers the perfect combination of ingredients for a good night's sleep.

19. Kiwi

Surprising as it may be, there is actually scientific evidence that eating kiwi before bed can improve both how long you sleep and how well you sleep. A study in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that adults with sleep problems saw a 13.4 percent increase in sleep duration and a 5.41 percent increase in sleep efficiency by consuming two kiwifruits one hour before bedtime every night for four weeks.

20. Oatmeal

Whole grains to the rescue once again! Oats aren't only a nutritious breakfast food, they may actually help you sleep better, too. Like other whole grains, oats are a complex carbohydrate, meaning they digest more slowly and help to keep middle-of-the-night munchies at bay. The complex carbs in oats also stimulate the release of serotonin, helping you to feel relaxed before you tuck yourself in for the night.

21. Dark Chocolate

Who doesn't like a little candy before bed? Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium, so indulging in a small square before bed may help you to relax. Keep the portion size small, though, because too much of the naturally-occurring caffeine in chocolate might make it difficult to fall asleep.


RELATED: Chocolate Cake For Breakfast Helps You Lose Weight, Says Science


22. Kale

Like spinach (and other leafy greens), kale is high in magnesium and potassium, both potent sleep aids. You could add a simple kale salad to dinner, or bake these delicious kale chips for a late-night snack.

23. Hummus

A dollop of hummus with some veggies for dipping would make a stellar nighttime snack because chickpeas are a protein-packed source of both vitamin B6 and tryptophan.

24. Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate juice is one of the few food sources of melatonin. If you've ever taken melatonin to help you sleep, you may try sipping a glass of pomegranate juice before bed instead.

25. Quinoa

Quinoa is a complex carbohydrate that is high in magnesium and protein, so it can help your body to relax and keep those hunger pangs away. Try incorporating quinoa as a side dish with dinner or make this Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Breakfast Bake.

RELATED: 6 Health Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar (And How To Specifically Use It For Weight Loss)

This article was originally published at PopSugar. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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