This usually happens when all lights are off. Let me set the stage for you: I spread out on the couch or on my bed, am covered in blankets and relax at the end of a long day with my phone, TV or modern romance to keep me company when suddenly – boom! – my stomach sounds like a thunderstorm, humming so loud that I can not even concentrate. It’s only been a few hours since dinner, but I’m starving. Why is this happening persistently? To learn more about what causes these night needs, I checked in with some nutritional benefits.

Why do I feel hungry at night?

There are many reasons why you may feel hungry at night, according to experts. “Tune in to see if it’s really hunger, or if it’s boredom or another feeling you feel. Very often that’s the case,” Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author Finally full, finally slim and adjunct professor of nutrition at New York University, told POPSUGAR. “If it’s physiological, you may not have eaten enough during the day or at dinner, especially if you skipped protein.”

Hannah Brilling, RD, a clinical dietitian at the Weight and Wellness Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH, agreed, adding that simple carbohydrates – found in foods like white rice, potatoes and pasta – are digested faster and leave us to feel hungry faster than after consuming protein, fat and fiber.

It is also possible that your night result may be linked back to sleep. “Most often it is to feel hungry at night due to late bedtime or an underlying sleep problem,” Brilling said. “We recommend seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Many adults suffer from some form of sleep disorder, such as insomnia or sleep apnea. The night watchman is often treated with food.”

If you struggle to sleep and are always by the fridge, take a closer look at these habits, Brilling explained: “Consider what your relationship with food is at night: does it feel like you have to eat to get back to sleep? Try to question this assumption. Collect some data – in the form of recording in a notebook – to see what really happens if you do or do not eat at night. “

How can I prevent cravings at night?

Start by going to bed early and pay attention to what you eat for dinner. “It seems counterintuitive, but overeating – especially a high-carbohydrate meal – can speed up timing or increase the intensity of hunger later,” Brilling said. “Make sure the last meal of the day does not contain more than 25 percent carbohydrates, and try to choose unprocessed whole grains like farro, quinoa, lentils or beans. The rest of the plate is ideally filled with non-starchy vegetables and three to four ounces of protein. Using a model like Harvard’s Healthy Dining Plate or the USDA’s MyPlate is a great way to assess balance. “

If you are still hungry again before bedtime, it’s OK – you should never feel bad about filling your body. “We get hungry at night because the hunger hormone ghrelin, in addition to behavioral causes, rises in the evening. So how do you fight it? You do not,” said Charlie Seltzer, MD, CSCS, DABOM, a Philadelphia doctor. who is double-board certified in internal medicine and obesity, POPSUGAR said. “There’s nothing wrong with that [eating at night] as long as your total daily calorie intake is adequate. In fact, it can help you sleep better, and if you allow calories for something you see as a treat just before bedtime, you have something to look forward to and are less likely to hit the vending machine at. 14.30. “

For a more virtuous night snack, Brilling recommends eating a small portion of healthy fats and proteins, such as whole-fat Greek yogurt, a cheese stick, a spoonful of peanut butter, or a quarter cup of nuts. “This has a dual benefit: the fat is satisfying to help us eat only a small portion and also maintains feelings of fullness for extended periods,” she said.