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February 11, 2022
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Food is to the human body what gasoline or electricity is to a car: a source of fuel that keeps the wheels turning. But unlike in the morning and afternoon, you don't want the food you eat in the evening to rev you up too much.

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See, everyone has a circadian rhythm, an internal clock that tells the body when to rise and when to rest. When the sun comes up, your body's ready to be active. When the sun goes down, your body is preparing to wind down too. This is one reason why any late-night cravings should be curbed with sleep-promoting desserts that won't disrupt this natural cycle.

Unfortunately, most of the sweet treats you find yourself reaching for after dinner don't promote sleep. Rather, they can obstruct it. For example, most chocolate contains trace amounts of caffeine, and for those sensitive to the stimulant, a few squares could be enough to disrupt sleep. And while milk can promote good sleep1, store-bought ice creams and other dairy desserts that are packed with sweeteners will spike blood sugar and get in the way of high-quality rest2.

The good news is that it is possible to have your dessert and sleep too. If you find yourself with a sweet tooth before bed, holistic nutritionist and wellness expert Kelly LeVeque says small portions of foods that balance your blood sugar—including healthy fats, moderate proteins, and nonstarchy vegetables and carbs—are key. Below, we've rounded up some sleep-promoting desserts, including a few LeVeque-approved recommendations, that are guaranteed to stop a craving in its tracks, without jeopardizing a good night's rest:

1.

Freezer Fudge

LeVeque's 20-minute fudge recipe is rich in flavor, super decadent, and won't keep you up at night. To make it, all you need is three ingredients: coconut oil (which is high in healthy fats), almond or any other nut butter (also high in healthy fat, protein, and a hint of fiber), and chocolate protein powder (LeVeque uses her BWBK blend). "[The] best part is that there is no added sugar," LeVeque tells mbg. "[It’s] the perfect after-dinner healthy treat when you're craving a little something."

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2.

A Better-for-You Banana Split

Just because you're forgoing ice cream in favor of a good night's sleep doesn't mean you can't still enjoy a banana split before bed. Research3 actually shows that the potassium in bananas might help restless sleepers snooze through the night. Rather than pairing yours with a scoop of chocolate or vanilla ice cream, opt for either plain coconut or Greek yogurt and top with a bit of nut butter.

3.

Golden Milk

There's more to golden milk than its pretty yellow hue. Neurologist and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine Kulreet Chaudhary, M.D., previously shared that golden milk, or turmeric milk, "settles your mind and body at the end of the day" and "invites your entire being to relax and let go of any worries as you drift off to sleep." Go ahead and pour yourself a cup using Chaudhary's recipe.

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4.

Chocolate & nut butter

One of LeVeque's favorite simple bedtime snacks is a handful of chocolate chips melted with a spoonful of nut butter. Those who aren't sensitive to caffeine will enjoy the decadent chocolate goodness (LeVeque recommends looking for chips that are organic and free of added sugars), and the addition of nut butter will lend protein, healthy fats, and fiber to the mix.

5.

Almonds

For anyone who finds themselves craving something salty over something sweet before bed, Tiffany Lester, M.D., creator of The Unconscious Workout, previously told mbg that almonds are chock-full of vitamin B6 and tryptophan, and therefore support the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps us fall and stay asleep.

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6.

Yogurt Bark

Store-bought chocolate barks may taste great, but they tend to be loaded with added sugars that will keep you up. Instead, treat yourself to LeVeque's homemade yogurt bark recipe that is both keto- and vegan-friendly, loaded with probiotics, and easily customizable. All you need is 1 to 2 cups of coconut yogurt (or Greek yogurt to increase your protein intake), 1 to 2 cups of nut butter, and ½ cup of your favorite melted sugar-free chocolate. Top with dehydrated strawberries, coconut, nuts, or any other superfood for added nutritional benefits, texture, and flavor.