If you’ve ever had trouble drifting off to dreamland, you know you’d do anything to fall asleep faster. What if we told you all you need is a snack? It’s true; certain foods contain vitamins, minerals and amino acids that help the body and brain get ready for sleep. Plus, hunger can disrupt slumber so a well-chosen snack can actually help you fall and stay asleep. Nighttime nibbles should be limited to around 200 hundred calories so your body isn’t up all night digesting. That’s why this list of sleep-inducing snacks is also low in calories. Go ahead, grab a snack and hit the sack!
1. Hummus and Veggies
The chickpeas in hummus are packed with vitamin B6, a necessary component in the production of melatonin, which helps control the sleep-wake cycle. Try digging in with raw vegetables such as cucumber, broccoli and carrots to keep calories down and provides complex carbohydrates that also aid in deep sleep.
2. Sweet Potato Fries
Giving in to your late night French fry cravings may be just the ticket to sending the sandman your way — if you rely on the healthier homemade sweet potato variety. The complex carb primes your brain to absorb tryptophan. Plus, they’re packed with potassium, a natural muscle-relaxant. If you prefer sweet to savory in the evening, top your fries with cinnamon and nutmeg to give your fries a “desserty” vibe. Roasting the sweet spuds in the oven will also bring out their natural sugars.
3. Cereal and Milk
Most of us start the day with a bowl of cereal, but it may be time to have breakfast after dinner. For a good night’s sleep, skip the sugary cereals that can keep you awake in favor of the whole-grain kind packed with sleep-inducing complex carbohydrates. Fill your bowl with tryptophan-full milk for sweet dreams even sooner.
4. Parmesan Cheese Popcorn
Snuggling up on the couch with a bowl of cheesy popcorn may be just what you need for a good night’s sleep. A small dose (about two tablespoons) of grated Parmesan doesn’t just give this snack flavor, it contains sleep-inducing tryptophan. And, with about 30 calories in one cup popped, this light snack is easy to digest while the popcorn’s whole grains help your body absorb the cheese’s tryptophan.
5. Kale Chips
If salty snacks call your name at night, we’ve got you covered. With 82 fewer calories per cup than traditional potato chips, the kale variety are easier for your body to digest, making it easier for you to get some shuteye. Plus, these and other leafy greens are packed with calcium, a key nutrient when it comes to sleep. Research has shown that calcium deficiency is a major culprit in insomnia.
6. Oatmeal with Bananas and Almond Butter
This comforting treat is a magnesium triple-threat. And that’s a good thing since this mineral helps the brain regulate sleep. Oatmeal also packs complex carbohydrates while bananas provide potassium, a natural muscle-relaxant. Almonds are yet another good source of sleep-inducing magnesium, but if you don’t have any on hand peanut butter is a solid substitute with about half the magnesium of almond butter. Just be sure to watch portions. Half a cup of oatmeal with one tablespoon of almond butter and half a banana is around 230 calories — more than enough for an evening snack!
7. Yogurt with Berries
If you just can’t catch a wink, try yogurt with berries. The calcium found in plain yogurt can help kick insomnia to the curb while the B6 found in both raspberries and strawberries kicks sleep-regulating melatonin production into high gear.
8. Applesauce with Cinnamon and Raisins
Think of this snack as apple pie for better shuteye. The quick boost in glucose levels from these naturally sweet foods reduces orexin, a neurotransmitter that triggers the brain to wake you up and get more food! Research has shown lower orexin levels can contribute to drowsiness and inactivity, the first step to a good night’s sleep.
9. Cherry and Pistachio Rice Pudding
Made the right way, creamy, comforting rice pudding is a ticket straight to dreamland — if you eat it early enough. One study found that consuming jasmine rice four hours before bed had participants sleeping twice as fast as those eating a low-glycemic meal at the same time. Mix in melatonin-producing tart cherries and pistachios, a great source of sleep-promoting vitamin B6 and you’ve got a killer combination. Don’t forget to make the pudding with tryptophan-packed skim milk.
10. Turkey on Whole-Grain Bread
For those in need of a larger meal, try a sandwich made with the food most famous for its sleep-inducing tryptophan: turkey. Top that with a calcium-packed piece of cheese and two slices of whole-grain bread for the complex carbs and you’ve got yourself a sleep sandwich.