You’ve finished your nighttime routine, started to wind down, and climbed into bed only for your stomach to start growling unforgivingly — we’ve all been there.
We’re often faced with the dilemma of wondering if it’s worth getting up to eat, and if so, what healthy late-night snacks are on hand that would satisfy those cravings and help you sleep.
To help you listen to your body’s cravings but also provide it with the right nutrients, we’ve compiled 28 science-backed and healthy late-night snack ideas that will help you get the beauty sleep that you need to feel good.
There are a wide variety of healthy options for savory snack lovers. Get creative in your kitchen with these tasty, light, and filling late-night snack ideas.
When winding down before bed with a bag of popcorn and a show, you may wonder, is popcorn a good late-night snack? While pre-packaged popcorn can often contain a lot of sodium and harmful chemicals like perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), making popcorn from scratch is a tasty, light, and filling way to take care of bedtime cravings.
This Mediterranean chickpea-based favorite will keep you full for hours. Jam-packed with protein and healthy fats, it’s the ideal savory treat for the late-night snacker. Spread it onto pita bread or use it as a dip for pretzels or carrots.
Greek yogurt before bed will provide you with all of the protein you need to feel satisfied into the night. It’s also a great source of probiotics to keep your gut working properly.
Additionally, yogurt consumption has even been linked to insomnia relief. Just be sure to avoid flavored varieties that come with several grams of added sugar, as this reduces the nutritional value and could make it harder to fall asleep. Instead, add a little honey, brown sugar, or agave.
Cottage cheese is a commonly overlooked source of protein and valuable nutrients. Like yogurt, it serves as an excellent base for other tasty and nutritious foods.
Consider adding walnuts, sliced apples, and maybe a little drizzle of honey to make it a tasty, filling bedtime snack. However, it’s a good idea to choose a low sodium variety to avoid a high sodium intake which could increase blood pressure.
Fatty fish like salmon and tuna provide the valuable combination of vitamin D and omega-3 that are critical for serotonin production. This regulatory hormone not only enhances one’s ability to sleep but it also supports day-to-day brain functions.
Avocado toast may be a simple snack, but it has gained such a popular reputation for a reason. It’s not a must-have among millennials solely for its tastiness — avocados are also a great source of magnesium, which can help curb your sleep anxiety. It’s a great way to boost your mood and chill out your body before laying down for the night.
While bell peppers are extremely rich in flavor by themselves, they are also some of the most versatile peppers out there. From dipping them in ranch or hummus to stuffing them with grains or cheese, if you’re looking for a vitamin-rich, sweet-yet-savory bedtime treat, bell peppers may be the snack for you.
Like yogurt and cottage cheese, oatmeal is the ideal blank canvas for a variety of added flavors and nutrients. Consider adding fruits, nuts, and a little brown sugar to a bowl of plain oatmeal for a filling and healthy late-night snack.
Johns Hopkins suggests eating oatmeal before bed, as it contains complex carbohydrates that trigger the release of serotonin.
Tofu is a soy-based protein that has become a favorite among vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters alike. While more research has yet to be done, studies have demonstrated a positive relationship between soy and relief of sleep disorders.
Consider making a stir fry with veggies and tofu a couple of hours before bed for a healthy, robust, sleep-inducing meal.
Since pre-packaged veggie chips are often just as unhealthy as potato chips, we recommend making your own homemade veggie chips. Oven bake or air fry sliced sweet potatoes, zucchini, or beets for a crunchy and nutritious snack that limits unnecessary calories.
If you’re looking for a light, airy crunch to satisfy your midnight munchies, rice cakes are the way to go. Add flavor and nutrients with nut butter, avocado, cheese, or fruit — the options are endless!
Rice cakes are particularly great for when you’re in a snacking mood as opposed to hungry, as they provide a satisfying crunch with just a few simple ingredients.
If you’re trying to avoid extra calories before bed but feel the need to munch on something, celery has plenty of vitamins and minerals and a low glycemic index. Cover it in peanut or almond butter to give it an extra boost of protein.
Celery with peanut butter and raisins — better known as ants on a log — is a fantastic snack for kids and adults alike!
Eggs can be prepared in a variety of ways, but one thing holds true regardless of preparation style — they’re just as rich in nutrients as they are filling. Boiling or scrambling an egg before bed will provide you with the tryptophan needed to produce melatonin.
Melatonin is the hormone that regulates sleep, so eating melatonin-rich foods is one of our favorite sleep hacks.
Pistachios have become one of the world’s most popular nuts for a reason. Not only are they a delicious, protein-rich treat that has been made into an equally popular ice cream flavor, but they are also one of the most melatonin-rich nuts.
Almonds are highly nutritious nuts that provide your body with healthy fats as well as protein and magnesium. Consider roasting them in the oven for a toasty snack that’s packed with flavor.
When snacking on almonds, it’s a good idea to avoid flavored or salted varieties as this can ruin the nutritional value. High sodium foods are known to contribute to poor sleep due to increased blood pressure and dehydration.
Similar to almonds and pistachios, walnuts contain plenty of melatonin to help regulate your circadian rhythm. They also contain nutrients that result in the production of serotonin, a valuable sleep- and mood-enhancing chemical. Try mixing walnuts into a nutrient-rich base, like yogurt or oatmeal, to add more flavor and nutritional value to your late-night snack.
If you’re looking for the protein and nutrients that nuts provide but want a snack with a smoother consistency, spread some nut butter on toast, apples, or rice cakes. Whether peanut, almond, or cashew butter, top it off with a drizzle of honey to sweeten this protein-rich bedtime treat.
Who said sweet and healthy can’t go together? Truth is, there are countless ways to satiate your evening sweet tooth without sending your glucose levels through the roof.
While our midnight sweet tooth may lure us to the chocolate shelf, it’s a good idea to choose dark chocolates that are rich in antioxidants and relatively low in sugar.
Dr. Brooke Scheller, DCN, CNS, and director of nutrition at Freshly explains, “I will warm up some unsweetened almond milk and mix in 1 tbsp of cacao powder, a touch of maple syrup, and a sprinkle of cinnamon as a healthy alternative to hot chocolate.” In the event that your chocolate craving isn’t satisfied with cacao powder, Dr. Scheller recommends dark chocolate made of 70% cacao or more.
Not only is pineapple a delicious tropical treat, but it also provides our bodies with the melatonin that helps us sleep well. One study showed pineapples increase participants’ melatonin levels by over 266%. Try sprinkling some coconut shavings on top to create your own piña colada bowl.
Kiwi is just as good for your sleep as it is for your taste buds. One study revealed that adults who ate two kiwis an hour before bedtime got to sleep 45% faster and stayed asleep longer than participants who did not. Eat it by the spoonful or add it to a colorful fruit salad!
A frequent cause of perceived hunger is actually dehydration. If it’s difficult for you to drink the recommended 2.7–3.7 liters of water per day, consider making watermelon a go-to bedtime snack. Not only is it packed with water, but it also contains sleep-enhancing nutrients and antioxidants such as choline and lycopene.
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but should you eat an apple as a nighttime snack? Studies say yes!
If you’ve seen them in the aisle of your local grocery store, you’ve probably wondered what tart cherries are good for. As it turns out, studies show that regular consumption of tart cherries and tart cherry juice combats insomnia, resulting in a reported 90 more minutes of sleep per night.
You’ve probably heard that bananas are a great source of potassium, but what does that mean for your body? Potassium has been shown to reduce blood pressure and help your body relax, allowing you to seamlessly drift to sleep after satisfying your midnight cravings. For a delicious nighttime treat, put them on top of almond butter toast, in yogurt, or in oatmeal for a filling, nutritious snack.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, Dr. Scheller recommends blending frozen bananas with a scoop of protein powder and a tablespoon of cacao powder for an ice cream alternative that will satisfy your sweet tooth and provide protein to help balance blood sugar.
If you’re craving something sweet that won’t disrupt your sleep, grapes are the perfect healthy late-night snack. Although relatively high in sugar, they are an excellent natural source of melatonin, so eating them in moderation not only satisfies your hunger, but they can also help you sleep through the night. Consider freezing them on warm summer evenings for a healthy alternative to a popsicle.
It’s not always easy to eat raw superfoods. Instead of making yourself a bowl of kale and spinach, blend it all up in a smoothie with your favorite nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, and yogurt. Smoothies are delicious and healthy late-night snacks that allow for some creativity.
Cereal for dinner? Yes please! Choosing a low-sugar cereal and low-fat milk allows you to reap the benefits of the carbohydrates that will help you sleep well. Consider substituting regular milk for oat milk to cut out saturated fats and increase vitamins.
While it may feel odd to classify tea as a “snack,” it can be a filling, hydrating, and sleep-inducing beverage that satisfies late-night cravings. Try chamomile tea, which contains apigenin, an antioxidant that helps to induce sleepiness. To make it more filling, add a low-fat milk and a little sweetener like honey.
If you want to curb unhealthy late-night cravings, there are some best practices to take into consideration. Let’s take a look at some advice provided by experts in the field of nutrition.
Although eating the right foods late at night isn’t necessarily a bad thing, many nutritionists, including certified Integrative Nutrition Coach and gut health specialist Skylar Buchanan, advise avoiding eating two to three hours before bed to improve the likelihood of restful sleep. Keep your body on a healthy eating and sleeping schedule by planning your meals ahead of time so that you can minimize late-night cravings as much as possible.
Registered dietitian Emilie Berry also recommends making sure that your dinner contains a balance of protein, fats, carbs, and fiber to prevent hunger later at night.
Despite attempts to curb late-night cravings, there may come times when hunger strikes a little later than you would like. Rather than allowing a growling stomach to keep you up at night, registered dietitian and nutritionist Chrissy Arsenault recommends eating late-night snacks that are rich in protein and fiber, so that you don’t have to eat much to feel satisfied. She adds that, “Eating calorie-dense or acidic snacks right before bed can give you heartburn or upset your stomach.”
When rummaging through your refrigerator late at night, Dr. Jinan Banna, Ph.D., RD, and Associate Professor of Nutrition at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, suggests you should limit snacks that are high in sugar and sodium.
Echoing this point, Dr. Scheller explains that consuming foods high in sugar “could create blood sugar fluctuations that keep us up late at night and have us feeling a drag in the morning.” To fight hunger pangs without negative second-hand effects, keeping sugar and sodium to a minimum is an excellent habit to keep in mind.
Late-night snacks are a hot topic in the field of nutrition, and there are a lot of different opinions out there. Here are answers to some common questions surrounding late-night snacking.
According to Berry, you should never ignore true hunger, even late at night. While late-night cravings can be reduced by consuming the right nutrients at dinnertime, there is always a chance that you’ll feel hungry again before bed. When that happens, it’s important to attend to your body’s needs with the right light snack foods.
As the above snack ideas suggest, fruits, vegetables, yogurt, nuts, and hummus are all healthy late-night snack options. Due to their high nutritional value, whether that be through protein, vitamins, or probiotics, these snacks will certainly support a good night’s rest. Just be sure to read the labels to avoid excess sugar, fat, and sodium.
The best snacks to eat late at night are those packed with protein and melatonin. According to Buchanan, protein “is the most immediately satiating macronutrient.”
That’s why nuts, hummus, and yogurt are all such excellent late-night snacks. Since melatonin is a sleep-enhancing hormone, foods rich in it such as pistachios, bananas, and grapes also serve as excellent bedtime treats.
After 8 p.m., you have plenty of snacking options. Just be sure to avoid alcohol and foods with high sugar, sodium, and caffeine contents. These tend to cause acid reflux or increase blood pressure which could disrupt sleep. If nightmares have been inflicting your sleep, consider also avoiding foods that may cause nightmares after 8 p.m.
If you aren’t hungry, many nutritionists recommend avoiding eating two to three hours before bed. That said, nobody should feel bad for enjoying a midnight snack. As long as you take the above advice into consideration, there’s nothing wrong with a bedtime snack to help quell your cravings before settling down for the night.
It’s okay if it takes some trial and error to figure out a bedtime routine that works for you, but hopefully, the ideas above will serve you well in your efforts to improve your eating and sleeping habits.
While smart snacking is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle, it’s only one piece of the equation for achieving consistently restful sleep. It’s equally important to practice good sleep hygiene, curate a distraction-free sleeping environment, and invest in a comfortable mattress that provides support.