Sometimes, despite careful planning and three healthy meals (plus perhaps a snack or two), we get the munchies just before bedtime.
It happens to everyone.
Some people can fall asleep on a rumbling tummy, waiting the hunger out until morning. But others find they simply can’t nod off when they’re starving.
So it’s a mad midnight dash for the fridge, some cold leftovers…and then a night of interrupted, gassy, unhappy “rest.”
What’s a nighttime muncher to do?
Don’t worry – there are ways to take away that hunger edge that’s keeping you from Slumberland…and these great choices WON’T produce a backlash at 2AM that will have you tossing and turning. (NOTE: If you have any food allergies or intolerances, be careful of any food choices, before bed or at any other time. Everyone is different…and your mileage may vary, as they say. Experiment with healthy options to find what works well for you.)
Almonds are high in the mineral magnesium, which is sleep-promoting. Unlike magnesium in tablets (or another concentrated form), almonds do not generally have a laxative effect, so you won’t be bothered by intestinal disturbance if you consume them in small quantities. One ounce (about a quarter cup) is the perfect amount for taking off the nighttime hunger and promoting gentle, natural sleep.
Walnuts contain tryptophan, an amino acid associated with relaxation and sleep. The amount in walnuts won’t knock you out like a supplement or prescription strength version might, but that’s a good thing (being over-relaxed can be sleep-disruptive too, and may contribute to snoring). Again, a SMALL quantity is sufficient; try an ounce or two.
If you’re thirsty rather than hungry, sipping on some warm chamomile tea can help relax your body and mind at the same time. Chamomile is well-known (and has been for centuries) for its sleep-promotive properties. Besides its relaxation properties, the warmth itself will help you achieve a wonderful sense of calm (most non-caffeine containing teas and most clear broths will have the same effect in this regard). A bonus: if you’re watching your weight, drinking steeped chamomile won’t add more than two or three calories to your day, and will add no fat at all.
Aren’t you glad we suggested this? You’re welcome! Chocolate is rich in serotonin, which both lifts our mood and helps us achieve a sense of calm. (Go for dark chocolate, which contains more cocoa.) One or two small squares (one-half to one ounce) should be plenty. (We’d love to tell you to go ahead and have the entire brick, but at that point the caffeine in the cocoa might offset its quieting properties.)
It’s not a myth: a banana before bedtime helps you sleep better (and get there faster). Bananas pack an amazing bedtime punch by combining magnesium, tryphtophan and potassium, three wonderfully soothing ingredients. Have half a large banana or one small banana half an hour before bed.
MEANWHILE, AVOID THESE…
Just as there are foods and drinks that are great for nighttime, there are some things we should never consume before closing down and cashing it in. A few include:
- alcohol (it may initially have a sedative effect, but later will result in interrupted sleep)
- refined (table) sugar – some people are unaffected, but others may react to sugar consumption with alertness and sometimes, agitation
- breads (these tend to “fill up” the stomach and can produce bloat, making sleep uncomfortable)
- high-fat/fried foods (these, too, may give an “overfull,” uncomfortable feeling, especially when lying down)
- spicy foods (unless very well-tolerated, spicy foods can “come back up” into the esophagus when you lie down, producing heartburn)
- celery, watermelon or citrus (these tend to be diuretic, so you may awaken during the night to urinate)