For better sleep, you can sideline the advice not to eat at night. In fact, the right snack before bed may actually improve the quantity and quality of your shut-eye. Here’s how.

Think Small

Stick to 150 to 200 calories. A 2015 study published in Nutrients concluded that healthy snacks of this size may actually help you build muscle and maintain a healthy metabolism. Another study out of Florida State University found that men who ate a 150-calorie snack before bed had a higher resting metabolism in the morning than participants who ate nothing.

Eat Smart All Day

High caffeine, alcohol or sugar intake earlier in the day can sabotage your sleep. Conversely, regularly eating foods high in omega-3s (fatty fish, nuts, seeds), vitamin D (fatty fish, fortified dairy, eggs) and magnesium (dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, beans) can improve your rest, studies show.

Strike the Right Ratio

This is one of the rare times you should go heavy on the carbs. They’ll raise your blood sugar slightly, which in turn releases sleep-inducing tryptophan. Balance whole-food-based carbohydrates with a bit of protein (about a fourth of your total calories). Try these research-backed combos, which contain key nutrients to help you drift off to sleep:

  • 1 small apple + 1 tablespoon nut butter
  • ½ cup jasmine rice + a few bites of tofu or chicken
  • 4 ounces tart cherry juice + 1 stick string cheese
  • 5–6 ounces plain yogurt + 1 tablespoon honey + ½ banana
  • ¼ cup granola + ¼ cup milk
  • ½ ounce walnuts + ½ ounce raisins