12 Low-Glycemic Index Desserts to Help You Enjoy a Sweeter Sleep Tonight

Photo: Wholesome Recipe Box
When it comes to bedtime snacks, there's a reason why sugar doesn't typically make the list. While foods with tryptophan, vitamin D, or magnesium can help you drift off to dreamland, foods high in sugar and saturated fat are actually associated with disrupted sleep patterns, and eating sugar late in the day can potentially affect melatonin production. But... the best part of dinner is dessert, so what's a person with a sweet tooth to do in the evening? Make healthy sweet snacks that won't spike your sugar, of course! Low-glycemic desserts satisfy a sweet tooth without so much sugar.

What are the benefits of eating low-glycemic desserts?

Meet your new best friends, low-glycemic desserts. These treats still taste sweet, but because they use less sugar and refined flour (and incorporate healthy fats and fiber), they won't make your blood sugar levels spike to such extremes as with traditional desserts. That means no sudden before-bed energy bursts to keep you up longer and less chance of disrupted snoozing. You can have your cake and eat it too—while still clocking in a solid night of sleep. Keep reading to for a few low-sugar and anti-inflammatory dessert options, that'll give your sweet tooth everything it could ever desire.

Experts In This Article

Who should consider low-glycemic dessert options?

Excessive sugar intake is linked to type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, and other long-term health consequences, which is why it may be worthwhile to some to note glycemic index (GI) levels, which score various foods with carbohydrates, rating them on how big or how small of an impact those foods can have on your blood sugar levels. However, that's not to say it's necessary for everyone. "I always encourage anyone with a chronic, diet-related health condition such as diabetes to see a knowledgeable health professional for dietary guidance," Robert Glatter, MD, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Northwell Health and attending emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital, previously shared with Well+Good.

Keep reading for 12 low-glycemic desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth.


low-gylcemic mug brownie
Photo: The Big Man's World

1. Microwave mug brownie

This brownie is just as chocolate-y and gooey as you want from a decadent dessert, but it won't mess with your blood sugar levels. The secret is using almond flour in place of regular flour (for extra fiber) and sugar alternatives like monk fruit instead of the refined stuff. The recipe also calls for cocoa powder and chocolate, which are high in antioxidants and linked to boosting longevity. Plus, it's ready to eat in less than one minutes.

low-glycemic chocolate clusters
Photo: Meghan Telpner

2. Chocolate clusters 

Another low-GI way to enjoy your chocolate is with these homemade clusters. A touch of honey enhances the raw cacao, which has a slightly bitter taste on its own. Any nut—or seed—works in the recipe for the crunch factor, so you can throw in whatever you happen to have and it will still taste A+.

Is it healthier to use honey instead of sugar in baking recipes?

Although honey closely resembles table sugar at a chemical level, it's linked to more health benefits than regular refined sugars. Honey is known to be antibacterial and can help heal the gut lining, allergies, and even acne, if it’s applied topically. It's also high in antioxidants, which means it can help protect the body from diseases.

low-glycemic cheesecake
Photo: Kalyn's Kitchen

3. No-bake cherry cheesecake

While a slice of cake from The Cheesecake Factory could leave you with a major sugar hangover, this no-bake version will have you sleeping like a baby. (Cherries are linked to better sleep because they're a natural source of melatonin.) Spend 15 minutes mixing the six ingredients this recipe calls for together and you'll have the perfect creamy, tangy dessert.

low-glycemic peanut butter pie
Photo: Divalicious Recipes

4. No-bake peanut butter pie

Just one more peanut butter dessert. By now, you can probably guess the smart substitutions that pop up in the ingredients list, like trusty standbys almond flour and erthyritol. Because peanut butter is so rich, it only takes a small piece of this pie to be truly satiated.


low-glycemic ice-cream
Photo: Chocolate Covered Katie

5. Four-ingredient vegan ice-cream

What would a dessert roundup be without ice-cream? While there are a lot of alt-milks out there, using coconut milk will keep it vegan while also adding natural sweetness, as does including vanilla bean. Erythritol, a favorite in low-GI recipes, amps up the flavor a touch more, while still keeping it low-sugar.

low-gylcemic cookie dough
Photo: Milk & Honey Nutrition

6. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Take a trip down memory lane with this nostalgia-inducing low-sugar chocolate chip cookie dough recipe. It's made with fiber-rich ingredients like almond flour, oats, and a secret (and somewhat surprising) ingredient: garbanzo beans, aka chickpeas. Then beans help add tons of protein to this delicious snack and moisture to make bind the ingredients together for this simple cookie dough treat.

low-glycemic cookies
Photo: Sweet As Honey

7. Peanut butter cookies

If you want all that peanut butter goodness without the chocolate, these peanut butter cookies are a good way to go. Not only are they low-sugar, they're low-carb too because they're made with almond flour instead of regular flour.


low-gylcemic dessert
Photo: A Clean Bake

8. Gluten-free Paleo peach galette

Yep, your low-GI (Paleo!) dessert can be a dinner party showstopper, too. This is another recipe that makes good use of almond flour to keep the carb count down. The flakiness of the crust paired with the juice-oozing peaches is truly perfection.


low-glycemic peanut butter bars
Photo: Wholesome Recipe Box

9. Peanut butter bars

Chocolate and peanut butter are the power couple of dessert foods. These bars lean a little heavier on the PB side than the chocolate side, but don't you worry, all the flavor notes are there. Be sure to buy sugar-free chocolate chips when getting your ingredients to keep it low-GI approved.

low-glycemic lemon bars
Photo: Hey Keto Mama

10. Lemon bars

If you're more in the mood for something more tart, these lemon bars will hit the spot. You'll just need a few ingredients: lemon, butter, eggs, and powdered erythritol, which is used in place of sugar. This dessert is also keto-approved, in case that's your thing, too.

low-glycemic zucchini cookies
Photo: Life Made Sweeter

11. Zucchini cookies

Consider this the dessert version of your fave zucchini bread. The moistness and chocolate chips are still there—and so are the veggies. Again, just make sure you're adding no-sugar chocolate chips to keep it truly low-glycemic. These cookies are also keto *and* Paleo.

low-gylcemic avocado brownie
Photo: Diabetic Foodie

12. Avocado Brownie

Love avocadoes as much as we do? This ooey-gooey brownie recipe stars avocadoes, which are packed with loads of fiber and healthy fat. Plus, it comes together with the help of a handy blender, meaning no fancy kitchen equipment (like a stand mixer) is necessary to whip (literally) this dessert together in seconds.

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Albaridi, Najla A. “Antibacterial Potency of Honey.” International journal of microbiology vol. 2019 2464507. 2 Jun. 2019, doi:10.1155/2019/2464507
  2. Samarghandian, Saeed et al. “Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research.” Pharmacognosy research vol. 9,2 (2017): 121-127. doi:10.4103/0974-8490.204647

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