When you awaken in the middle of the night and can’t fall right back to sleep, how often do you find yourself slipping out of bed and grabbing a snack? According to a recent VeraQuest survey among 3,000 U.S. adults, the majority of Americans (58%) admit to being midnight snackers… at least on occasion.
This doesn’t seem to be a practice that Americans do “frequently” (9%), but rather, indulging in the midnight munchies is something we do “sometimes” (22%) or “rarely” (27%). And a sizeable portion of adults (42%) don’t do it at all.
Whether it’s indicative of a greater focus on diet as we age or reflects the boundless energy, metabolism, and/or restlessness of youth, we see the incidence of midnight snacking declining with age (73% of Millennials vs. 61% of GenXers vs. 45% of Baby Boomers vs. 27% of the older generations are midnight snackers). Moreover, men are more likely to grab a snack in the middle of the night than women (63% vs. 53%, respectively).
The most popular midnight morsels are salty snacks – chips, pretzels, etc. (45%) and sweet snacks – ice cream, candy, baked goods, etc. (44%), followed by fruit (34%), cold cereal (30%), yogurt (27%), and meal leftovers (26%).
The specific snack itself surely influences whether one sees snacking in the middle of the night as a healthy or unhealthy behavior, but in general, Americans overwhelmingly believe it to be unhealthy (79%). Even most midnight snackers themselves see it as unhealthy (69%). That said, “frequent” midnight snackers are more split in their opinion (53% believe it to be unhealthy vs. 47% who feel it is healthy)… perhaps a self- defense mechanism kicks in to justify their frequent late-night noshing?
I personally blame the dog for my late-night forays to the fridge. During the colder months, she often hears nature call around 3:00 AM. Since I take her out via the kitchen, my late-night (early morning) snacking is probably more a crime of opportunity than a premeditated assault. My wife used to give me some grief about my snacking but now she just feigns being asleep… lest I suggest an alternative to our late-night dog-walking arrangement.
All-in-all only 8% of midnight snackers with others in the household who are aware of their late-night snacking behaviors report catching flack. On the flip-side, a lucky 34% say that others aware of the snacking actually join-in the midnight fun. Can’t even imagine. That said, I suspect I’ll be curtailing the detour to the fridge in a concerted effort (along with exercise) to get back to my fighting weight. Yeah, right.
What’s your midnight munchies snack of choice? Do you think that people who are frequent midnight snackers are just indulging in a bad habit, or do you think it’s something physiological?