We all are probably familiar with the sleep myth that we shouldn't eat at night because our metabolism slows down; however, that's not the case. Contrary to popular belief, metabolism does not shut down when we sleep. It ebbs and flows but overall remains consistent with our waking metabolism.
The bedtime snack has been blamed for everything from insomnia to extra pounds. But the right ones can be healthy and help you get to sleep and stay there. Snacking late at night isn't just ok, it's also recommended if you're really hungry. If you ignore your bodily cues, you may even sleepless that evening or have a harder time staying asleep. If you're overly-hungry at night, you'll likely have a harder time sleeping, and you'll be extra ravenous in the morning, possibly even feeling nauseous from hunger.
So what should you do when your stomach growls late at night? Fight it off and hope the hunger goes away? Or give in, only to beat yourself up about it later? Although these can feel like the only two options, they don’t have to be.
Check-in with your hunger. It’s helpful to get in tune with your body’s hunger signals to figure out when and how much to eat. Use our hunger scale to help evaluate your hunger. After a few bites, pay attention to how you feel. Are you feeling your hunger subside? Are you getting closer to being satisfied? Remember, the goal is not to perfectly gauge your hunger, just to be more aware of it.
Multiple macronutrients. Satiety can be defined as “being satisfied with our food intake or feeling as though we have eaten ‘enough,’” but research on how to make an eating occasion satiating is not crystal clear. Still, some research shows that combining protein and fibre can lead to greater feelings of satiety, so it may be helpful to include these two nutrients when building a late-night snack. A few may include: a banana with peanut butter, a handful of nuts and a cheese stick or a piece of dark chocolate and a few whole-grain crackers.
Be Mindful. Sometimes late-night snacking is accompanied by a distraction, such as a movie or social media. Limiting distractions can help us practice mindful eating, which can lead to a greater awareness of what and why we’re eating. For example, instead of reaching for the whole bag of chips, try pouring out a handful and checking in with your hunger before automatically grabbing more.
As long as you make sure that what you nosh on is nutritious and sleep-promoting, have your healthy snack and get a good night’s sleep.