Why Do I Get Hungry At Night

I remember being a kid at my friend’s house for a sleepover. I was hungry, in the kitchen looking for a snack, and my friend’s mom came in to tell me that the ‘kitchen closed at nine’. I wasn’t allowed to eat food late when I was at their house and it really sparked this question of ‘why do I get hungry at night?’ that took me a long time to figure out. While this is something that I had to figure out for myself, as a nutrition coach, helping clients dial in their eating habits throughout the day and at night to better understand their body is a big piece of what we do. So let’s dig into why you experience nighttime hunger and what to do about it instead.

High Stress Levels

Nutrients in food are great for helping healthy hormone levels and overall functioning, especially when it comes to regulating stress internally to reduce systemic inflammation. However, compounding external stressors can lead to getting hungry at night and late night snacking for some. Research supports the findings that individuals who experience high levels of stress experience higher levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin in the evening. [R] This rise is also synonymous with their bodies producing low amounts of peptide YY, which is a hormone that contributes to feeling full.

If you notice that you’re asking yourself why you get hungry at night and you feel like you’ve ate and drank enough, maybe ask yourself where your stress levels are at. If they end up being on that higher side, instead of eating, what could you do to remain in a more relaxed state at nighttime so that you can catch those important zzz’s?

Food Restriction

Trying to live a healthier lifestyle but feeling restricted with calories or food choices that you actually enjoy throughout the day? This might be a reason for your nighttime hunger. If you’re feeling bogged down (maybe consciously or subconsciously) about your new diet, ask yourself if you’re missing foods in your day that bring you joy, satisfaction, or energy. 

If you’re finding yourself craving foods at night (like cheese, milk, or bread) at nighttime, which are common, then ask yourself how you can incorporate those throughout the day so you don’t want them when they feel more ‘mischievous’ or ‘forbidden’ in the dark of the night.

Nighttime Habits

Compulsively eating and experiencing cravings after dinner, before bed, while watching TV or in the middle of the night can contribute to consuming an unnecessary amount of calories, including low nutrient calories. One big thing that we find in coaching is that most often eating late at night and getting hungry at night or waking from sleep to eat is just because of it being a nighttime habit they’ve established and practiced for some time. For example, do you HAVE to have a certain food or drink when you watch TV at night? Probably out of habit. Do you eat the same thing every night when you wake up and wander to the fridge, but you don’t eat it any other time of day? Probably a habit, too. So shake it up. 

Try a healthier, more nutrient dense snack, not eating at all, or taking a break from the nighttime routine. Instead of TV, read a book, listen to a podcast, take a bath, or something else. New habits await you. Plus, low calorie foods and blue light aren’t great for your sleep, either.

Not Eating Enough

Another big indicator of sleep and waking up hungry from sleep or just being hungry at night can come from not consuming enough calories throughout the day. Without the energy we get from food, our bodies can’t do what they need to do, like take care of your bodily functions, activity, and recovery at nighttime.

 Are you getting a sufficient amount of protein? Are you hydrating adequately? Are you waiting all day, restricting yourself from eating because you don’t prioritize it, then eating the kitchen sink and then some at night time? Then these habits might be to blame. Not sure where to go from here about eating more, what to eat, or how much to eat? We can help with that. Schedule a free nutrition consult to see how coaching can help you change your lifestyle and habits in a very small, efficient amount of time.


Staying Up Too Late

Another answer to your question of ‘why am I getting hungry at night’ is going to come from forcing your body to stay up later than it actually wants to. You know the feeling, when you’re watching a movie, yawning, it’s late in the evening, and you think to yourself ‘I’ve got to stay up to watch the whole thing’. This is where you get into trouble and where your hunger can get more gripping than you realize. 

In order for your body to honor what your brain wants (you staying up later and paying attention to something) our bodies will send hunger signals, indicating that we need food. This is where we say ‘what could I eat’ because you THINK you’re hungry, when in reality, your body is just asking for calories to keep you up past the point of being sleepy. Instead? Honor your sleep cues. Turn the screen off, stay out of the kitchen, and just go to bed.

Poor Hydration

Similar to hunger cues, hydration cues can feel almost the exact same, mimicking hunger signals to get you to get something down the hatch. If you’re hungry at night, or waking up hungry, make sure that you’re hydrating sufficiently (80-120oz/day) throughout the day so that you can differentiate between your hunger and thirst.

Consider A Sleep Supplement

Tired of not getting the sleep you deserve, being able to fall asleep, stay asleep, or not wake up hungry in the middle of the night? Then you may want to consider a sleep supplement. Nighttime is the most crucial time we have to give our bodies rest, recovery, and the ability to repair the damage that we did to them throughout the day. When we don’t have the nutrients our bodies need to do these important jobs, our lives, hormones, and health suffers.

ZMT from Swolverine is a clinically dosed, scientifically proven effective sleep supplement that will help you lull to sleep, stay asleep, and wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day. With ingredients like Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin B6, Tonkat, Valerian Root, Ashwagandha and Melatonin, you’re sure to set yourself up for success every night. We recommend taking the capsules ~45 minutes before your regular bed time so that you have enough time to get into your normal routine and go tinkle before bed. 

RECOMMENDED SUPPLEMENT: ZMT Sleep + Testosterone Boosting Supplement (180 capsules)

Why Do I Get Hungry At Night: Takeaway

Getting hungry at night is a common behavior that we address when clients come into coaching. However, there’s almost always a deeper reason for why the habit and behavior exists that can be easily and swiftly addressed and improved. By addressing chronic stressors, eating and hydrating well throughout the day, and taking a sleep supplement, you’re going to be well on your way towards a healthier, happier, more vibrant version of you in no time. 


The Swole Kitchen provides 1:1 nutrition coaching, macro coaching, and custom meal plans to help guide you to becoming the best version of yourself. We teach you how to enjoy the foods you love in the right amounts, so you can fit into your favorite pair of jeans, hit your health and fitness goals, and be healthy and happy. We guide you through making sound nutritional decisions and teach you along the way, so you can learn how to take control of your health, and discover what if feels like to live again.
Tags: Nutrition