Healthy Snack Ideas

8 Magnesium-Rich Nighttime Snacks Dietitians Love for Promoting Restful Sleep

Photo: Stocksy/Nadine Greeff
A bedtime snack can be a great way to boost your intake of fruits or vegetables and nourish yourself with an extra dose of essential nutrients that will help your body perform and recover at its best. One of those key nutrients that we often miss out on is magnesium, which is linked to promoting better quality sleep and can help ease anxiety before bed. This is why nutrition experts say that a nighttime nosh filled with magnesium-rich ingredients could be just the thing to lull you to sleep.

Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD, and author of Meals That Heal, recommends a well-rounded snack that offers a little bit of all the macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbs. She says it’s important to steer clear from snacks that are high in sugar before bed, as that can cause your blood sugar to fluctuate, which could leave you struggling to fall asleep. “We tend to stereotype foods by the time of day we’re 'supposed' to eat them, but isn't necessarily the best way to think about what we want to eat before bed. Go with what sounds delicious to you—whether it's a traditional dessert-slash-bedtime-snack or not—and even better if it has a little fat and protein and not too much sugar,” says Williams.

Catherine Perez, MS, RD, LDN, notes that it may be particularly helpful to choose a snack with complex carbohydrates—meaning a carbohydrate source, such as whole grain bread or oatmeal, that comes packaged with fiber, protein, and/or other essential nutrients—to further promote blood sugar stabilization and even healthy digestion when you wake up the next day.

Here, we asked six nutrition experts to share their favorite magnesium-rich snacks to eat before bed that are both delicious and promote restful, high-quality sleep. Of course, upping your intake of magnesium isn’t a guaranteed magic bullet for sleeping better, but it could be a good start for bringing a sense of calm to your nighttime routine.

8 magnesium-rich snacks for promoting a good night’s sleep

1. Trail Mix

Our panel of dietitians all raved about the benefits of nuts and seeds for promoting healthy sleep. Not only are nuts and seeds some of the best sources of magnesium per gram out there (just one ounce of pumpkin seeds offers 37 percent of your daily needs), they are also good sources of melatonin and omega-3 fats.

While melatonin is commonly thought of as a sleep promotor, Williams says that omega-3 fatty acids also play a role in helping you achieve a good night’s sleep. She suggests making a magnesium-packed trail mix blend of omega-3-rich walnuts, melatonin-rich pistachios and pumpkin seeds, and unsweetened coconut flakes or dried fruit. No time to whip up your own? Try this one from Shār.

2. Banana and Almond Butter

Perez loves bananas as a nighttime snack, as they are super easy to digest, are loaded with sleep-boosting tryptophan, and a large banana can pack 10 percent of your daily magnesium needs. She loves pairing a banana with almond butter (another good magnesium source) to add protein and healthy fats to the snack, and adds that serving them together over a slice of whole-grain toast is another excellent option. This is also a great way to sneak in an extra boost of fiber (and a fruit serving) before the end of the day. This almond butter from Georgia Grinders is delicious and supports the farmers they work with.

Learn more about the sleep-boosting benefits of bananas, nut butters, and more in this video:

3. Avocado Toast

Good news: Our beloved avocado toast is actually a perfect magnesium-packed nighttime snack. Half an avocado has about seven percent of your daily needs, while a slice of whole-wheat bread typically offers five percent. Tammy Chang, a holistic nutrition coach, loves topping her toast with Agni's Sesame Nori Seasoning, which she says is magnesium-rich and offers a boost of nearly a dozen other vitamins and minerals like zinc and iron. You could also top it with a sprinkle of chia seeds, which offer an impressive 26 percent of your daily magnesium recommendation in just one ounce.

4. Chia Pudding

Speaking of chia seeds, Nathalie Rhone, MS, RDN, CDN and Morgan Porpora, MS, RDN, LDN of Nutrition by Nathalie suggest serving up a comforting dish of chia seed pudding made with nut milk and cinnamon for a delicious nighttime treat. Not only do chia seeds pack a ton of magnesium, they also boast omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and even some protein to keep your blood sugar stabilized and help promote healthy digestion in the morning. Check out Rhone’s coconut chia seed pudding recipe for inspiration.

Learn more about the benefits of chia seeds according to an herbalist:

5. Roasted Chickpeas

Love a crunchy snack to munch on while watching TV or reading before bed? We got you. Perez is plant-based and loves to lean on legumes for getting her magnesium fix as well as a nice serving of protein. One of her favorite ways to boost her intake is with Biena Snacks’ roasted chickpeas, which come in a host of different flavors from “Rockin’ Ranch” to “Honey Roasted” and “Habanero.” You can also make them yourself with this three-ingredient recipe.

6. Yogurt Parfait

Yogurt is one the best animal-based sources of magnesium, packing in 10 percent of your daily needs per eight-ounce serving. Williams likes to team it up with a sprinkle of chopped nuts and a handful of berries for a soothing, magnesium-filled snack. Even better, yogurt is a good source of tryptophan—that sleep-inducing amino acid found in turkey we all associate with our post-Thanksgiving naps for a double-whammy of sleep-promoting nutrients.

7. Whole-Grain Cereal and Milk

Cereal and milk really is the perfect nighttime snack. However, we’re not talking Cap’n Crunch or Froot Loops—Lauren Cadillac, RD, RDN, CPT advises opting for something whole-grain like shredded wheat, muesli, or another option that’s low in sugar and high in magnesium and fiber. She says that the combo of a whole-grain cereal and milk offers not only a good source of magnesium (around 16 percent on average for both), but you’ll also get a boost of fiber and protein. Williams notes you can also opt for hot cereal, like oatmeal, if you’d prefer something warm and cozy that’s still jam-packed with magnesium.

8. Dark Chocolate

Good news for your sweet tooth: Chocolate is actually a great source of magnesium (you just need to be mindful of the cacao percentage). Perez says to aim for dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa to really reap the health benefits. She says that one ounce offers around 15 percent of your daily magnesium recommendation and the higher the cocoa percentage, usually the lower in sugar the chocolate is, which will keep your blood sugar from spiking right before bed. Cadillac also says to be careful about trying this for sleep if you are sensitive to caffeine, as it can have around 20 milligrams per ounce (about one-fifth the amount in a cup of coffee). Otherwise, have at it! If you need a good, clean bar to keep stocked, try Hu Kitchen dark chocolate.

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