There’s nothing I love more after a long day in the trenches of motherhood than relaxing on the couch with my cuddly dog and enjoying a late-night snack. With two young kids, it can sometimes be the only downtime I get. But to make sure my snack helps me relax, I’m careful about what I choose to eat. Some foods can actually be detrimental to getting a good night’s rest, whereas others can help prepare you for sleep. Here are a few of my favorite healthy late-night snacks that can fulfill your cravings and help you get ready for bed.
Certain types of nuts, like walnuts and almonds, can make great healthy bedtime snacks. They contain a hefty dose of melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that can help relax your body as you wind down for the day. As a bonus, they are packed with protein to leave you full for longer. Almonds were my favorite late-night snack during pregnancy; eating a handful ensured that I wouldn’t wake up starving in the middle of the night. Be mindful of serving size, though, as nuts are often high in fat and calories.
If you crave something sweet at night, avoid the typical ice cream or chocolate fix, which tend to be loaded with sugar and, in turn, can keep you up. Instead, go for fruit! Cherries are a great choice; like nuts, they are also a natural source of melatonin. A fun trick I learned this summer is to freeze cherries for a sweet, cold treat. They gain a somewhat creamy consistency when they’re frozen, so they taste very much like bite-sized servings of ice cream or sorbet. Keep in mind it’s important to pit them before freezing. If you don’t have a cherry-pitter, try this super-simple cherry-pitting method using an empty bottle and pair of chopsticks.
I still have fond memories of my mom making me a hot cup of Sleepy Time tea when I had trouble going to sleep as a child. I loved the drowsy bear family pictured on the tea box, but mostly I loved how warm and cozy a hot drink made me feel on a cold night. Even as an adult, a soothing cup of decaffeinated tea makes one of the best healthy late-night snacks. Not only does it have a soothing effect to help you relax, but it also helps fill you up so you don’t munch on higher-calorie foods.
Breakfast in Bed
A bowl of cereal was also a fun treat at bedtime as a child. Something about the topsy-turvy aspect of eating a morning food at night made it even tastier. Most breakfast cereals are unfortunately loaded with sugar, which certainly won’t help you sleep. Replace your favorite cereal with whole oats for a healthier, less-energizing twist on this classic bedtime snack. In addition to being a source of melatonin, oats are also a complex carb, which means they trigger a rise in blood sugar, creating insulin production and seeing to it that the naturally occurring tryptophan gets to your brain.
Remember, it’s important to keep bedtime snacks light and to avoid large, meals that are high in fat or caffeine for several hours before bed. What are some of your favorite snacks at the end of the day? Share them in the comments!
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.