I struggle with late night hunger. I’m not talking Taco Bell “4th meal” cravings. I’m talking gnawing, empty feeling stomach hunger that keeps me from falling asleep. I’ve always tended to get hungry at frequent intervals and needed to eat regularly, so I try to keep an eye on my hunger level and have a snack before bed if it seems I’m a bit peckish. But some nights I feel fine….until I’ve tossed and turned for an hour and all of a sudden realize that OH MY GOSH I FEEL LIKE HAVEN’T EATEN IN A YEAR AND I NEED FOOD NOW.

It’s really frustrating, because by that point, nothing I eat is going to be enjoyable. I don’t mind having a pre-bed snack, but once I get to the point of not being able to sleep, any nourishment is going to be for necessity’s sake only. For that reason, I often try to ignore it and see if I can fall asleep and avoid the awkward standing-in-the-dark-in-the-kitchen chomping a granola bar occurrence. But that’s usually a bad choice, because it only prolongs the inevitable.

It happened with a vengeance on Sunday night, even though I felt perfectly satisfied after not dinner and not hungry as I got ready for bed. No food that I could think of seemed remotely appealing, because all I really wanted to be doing was sleeping. I drank some water to see if I could trick myself into thinking I was full, but to no avail. I ended up grabbing a handful of trail mix and choking it down.

It’s hard to know what to do about this problem. I don’t want to force myself to have a snack before bed if I’m not hungry, because that would be useless calories. But I hate, hate, hate hunger-inflicted insomnia.

I try to have something small and protein-rich when I do need a snack:

  • a glass of soy milk
  • a few slices of sandwich meat
  • a piece of cheese
  • a small handful of almonds

Though there is the occasional night wherein I find myself eating cold chicken casserole and noodles straight from the container…yep. My late-night snacking isn’t the diet killer that women’s magazines always warn against. I’m not eating delicious things like ice cream because I crave them or can’t muster up self-control. I’m literally eating because I have to, if I want any sleep at all.

Do you have any times of day where you struggle with a need to snack? What are your go-to healthy and satisfy nibbles?

Laura Lindeman

Laura Lindeman