Eating before bed has been a controversial topic for a long time. There is so much speculation and misinformation about eating late at night and the effect it can have on your diet. However, eating late at night can have various effects on your sleep. Keep reading to find out how late night snacking can impact your sleep.
How eating before bed can negatively impact sleep
Intermittent fasting has made a cut off time for food seem like the right move. There isn't a lot of information or research on the effectiveness of a cut off time, however, eating earlier in the evening can help with indigestion and heartburn.
When you wake up and eat late at night, your body, which is supposed to be resting, now has to digest that food. This activates your muscles and intestines which can lead to extreme discomfort throughout the night. Food is passing through which can cause you to stay awake, or can keep certain parts of your body from being relaxed enough for you to get good quality sleep.
Laying down after you eat may also lead to some problems with heartburn. When we eat, our gastroesophageal sphincter opens to allow food to pass. This can sometimes get stuck open which gives us the feeling of heartburn, especially when we lay down. Experiencing this every so often isn't cause for concern, however, if you experience this more than twice a week, you may need to see your doctor for gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.
How eating before bed can impact your diet
You may grab a late night snack because you're truly hungry, or because you can't sleep and you're bored eating. If you find yourself starving to the point where you can't stay asleep, you may not be consuming enough calories. It's recommended that you eat your last meal up to two hours before bed, and that you eat a little more earlier in the day. Bigger breakfasts and lunches may help to curb some of that late night hunger.
If you're having trouble sleeping, and eat because there's nothing else to do there, then you may negatively be impacting your diet, especially if you're eating carb and sugar heavy foods. Late night eating has been associated with high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and other negative health effects.
If insomnia is the cause of your late night binge, try placing other activities or distractors next to your bed. You can even drink some water or tea, or chew on something healthy like nuts and almonds if you need to eat something. Avoiding late-night eating is definitely going to take some practice and mindfulness, but you'll do better in the long run.
How eating before bed can positively impact your sleep
For some, the late-night snacking is actually beneficial because it's a part of their bedtime routine. It's more important to establish a bedtime routine, or sleep hygiene, that works for you than to not do something because it doesn't work for someone else. If you have a habit of grabbing a snack before bed, and it doesn't cause you any digestion or weight issues, then there is nothing wrong with continuing that practice.
Continuously doing the same thing over and over could be a helpful signal to your brain that it Is time to go to bed. You may have to digest the late-night snack which could potentially cause mild discomfort. However, if you don't have any trouble sleeping, then you can continue snacking before bed until you do!
If you are having trouble staying asleep and feel like eating may be a part of it, please click the button below to take a free online sleep test and speak with a consultant from our sleep clinic.