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Is Eating Before Bed Really Bad?

6 min read
6 min read
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Eating before bed. Illustration

While this is a controversial topic and there are different opinions, some experts believe that eating before sleep can lead to weight gain. However, recent studies have shown that when you eat doesn’t matter. Whether you lose or gain weight depends on your calorie intake and physical activity.

When you eat and what you eat does make a difference. In this article, we will take you through whether it is bad to eat before bed and the pros and cons of eating at night. 

Pros and Cons of eating before bed. Illustration

Pros

1. Helps Sleep Better 

Ever tried going to sleep hungry? The dull ache of hunger makes it very difficult to fall asleep.

Sleeping after eating will help you sleep better because a full stomach makes you feel drowsy helping you fall asleep faster.

Try to munch on some healthy snacks. The food you consume will decide whether you get sound sleep or spend a sleepless night. If you gulp down biscuits or chips, you are more likely to experience heartburn or acid reflux.

If you are wondering what to eat before bed then fruits, peanut butter, and almonds are good snacking options.

2. Maintains Glucose Levels

Fruits and foods containing healthy carbohydrates will help regulate your blood sugar levels. Eating right before bed will maintain the optimal glucose levels in your blood. As a result, you will not feel tired when you wake up.

Gulping down ice cream before bed or a box of sweet snacks will give your stomach a tough time, leading to sleep disruptions. Diabetes and high blood sugar levels can also affect your sleep.

3. Helps Lose Weight

What happens if you eat before bed? Skipping meals to lose weight is pretty much a myth that most dietitians will tell you never to believe in. Contrary to this popular belief, eating meals on time can promote weight loss. 

Your body requires energy even while sleeping. When you sleep on an empty stomach, the body doesn’t get the required calories to fuel it. Thus, it holds on to the carbs and fats already present.

If you consume foods rich in melatonin (the sleep hormone), you will be able to sleep better. As a result, your body will continue to burn fat while sleeping.

Fruits like cherries, bananas, and walnuts are rich in melatonin. Thus, they are some of the best foods to eat before bed.

Studies have confirmed that eating light and nutritious food before bed can be helpful.

Cons

1. Disturbed Sleep

Is it bad to eat at night before bed? A lot about your sleep quality depends on the type of food you eat.

If you eat chocolates or drink coffee, you may find it hard to fall asleep. Caffeine also acts as a stimulant and keeps you active. Thus, you may not be able to grab some sound sleep.

2. Acid Reflux and Heartburn

One of the effects of eating before bed could be indigestion which can lead to heartburns and acid reflux. If you have a heavy meal that is oily and full of meat, your body will face trouble digesting it. Which means that you may experience discomfort while lying down.

Sleeping horizontally might worsen the symptoms. You might experience heartburns, difficulty in swallowing, and even respiratory problems like asthma.

3. Unhealthy Choices

If you develop the habit of snacking before sleeping, you might end up making unhealthy snacking choices. Let’s face it, we crave unhealthy foods when we have had a stressful day. Emotional eating cannot be rationalized but you can substitute pizza, chips, or ice cream with healthy snacks instead. Moreover, research shows that mealtime can influence your calorie intake. It’s better to have your food long before hitting the bed. That will keep you away from late-night cravings. 

Risks of Eating Late at Night

  • Depending on the snack you choose, it may lead to unhealthy weight gain.
  • Your blood pressure may increase.
  • You may have trouble falling asleep.
  • It may lead to bad dreams.
  • It may lead to indigestion and acid reflux.

So, what time should you go to bed after dinner? Going to sleep at least 2 hours after having dinner can change your sleep quality.

What to eat before bed?

Sometimes you don’t want a snack, you need a snack. This may be while you’re working night shifts, pulling an all-nighter studying or haven’t had dinner properly. And when you are really hungry, it’s just impossible to doze off.

You shouldn’t torture yourself by staying hungry, instead, go ahead and have a snack. But what kind of snack should you have late at night?

Go for foods that have low calories and are easily digestible. Refrain from having foods that are spicy, oily, sugary, or caffeinated.

Some great examples are:

  1. An apple or a banana
  2. A handful of walnuts
  3. A small bowl of chopped up cherries
  4. A hard-boiled egg

What Is the Best Time to Eat Dinner?

The best time to have dinner depends on your health condition and goals. Studies have shown that eating late at night can disrupt your sleep. So, it is better to have your dinner a couple of hours before going to bed. If you eat your dinner at least 2 hours before sleeping, your stomach will get enough time to digest it, and you should be able to sleep comfortably.

What happens if you eat before bed? If you have a heavy dinner before bed, your body will have a tough time digesting it and you may experience heartburn while trying to sleep. 

If you eat too early, you might feel hungry between your dinner and bedtime. But, should you go to bed hungry? If you feel so hungry that it’s hard for you to sleep, then consider eating some healthy snacks. Having fruits like cherries and bananas is a great idea. 

How Long Before Bed Should You Stop Eating?

If you stop eating at least 2 hours before sleeping, your body will be able to digest the food easily. If you have problems with acid reflux, you can consider having your dinner even earlier. Going to bed with a full stomach might worsen your symptoms and disrupt sleep.

If you feel hungry at night, you can eat a banana before bed. Banana is a fruit rich in magnesium. If you eat a light dinner containing proteins and carbs, your stomach will stay full as they are complex. However, you should avoid a heavy meal before bed at all costs.

Should You Go to Bed Hungry?

Going to bed hungry is better than eating chocolate before bed because foods like chocolate can stimulate you, preventing a good night’s sleep. Moreover, you should avoid binge eating biscuits and chips.

Going to bed a little hungry can help wake up in the morning with an appetite. However, if your hunger is such that it disrupts sleep, you can have a light and healthy snack.

So, does eating before bed help you sleep? Having a full stomach might make you feel drowsy. But the more important question here is what you eat before bed.

The Bottom Line

How to stop eating before bed? Make it a habit to have your dinner earlier. Try to have a meal containing balanced amounts of protein and fiber. That will keep you full for a long time. Consult a doctor immediately, if your eating habits are leading to physical ailments and sleepless nights.

FAQs

No. Chocolate itself has been used for centuries for its power to reduce stress and anxiety. If you have nightmares about eating chocolate before bed, it could be the sugar in it, and not the chocolate.

Your body’s metabolism isn’t as effective in burning calories at night as it is during the day. If you have a light meal before bed, it should not lead to weight gain.

Eating fruits before bed like cherries, almonds, kiwi fruit, banana, sweet potato or low fat foods can help regulate your weight.

You should avoid foods like raw onions, spicy foods, pizza, white rice, etc in the middle of the night.

Having a heavy meal before bed might lead to indigestion. As a result, you might get scary dreams.

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Meet Our Review Board

Each week our team researches, writes and collaborates with industry leaders to bring you simple easy-to-read sleep information.

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Siddhesh Tiwatne

Sleep Coach

Authored by healh experts and journalists

Fact checked and science-backed

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Meet Our Review Board

Each week our team researches, writes and collaborates with industry leaders to bring you simple easy-to-read sleep information.

David Bridge

Sleep Coach

Siddhesh Tiwatne

Sleep Coach

Authored by health experts and journalists

Fact checked and science-backed

Medically reviewed by physicians

Meet Our Review Board

Each week our team researches, writes and collaborates with industry leaders to bring you simple easy-to-read sleep information.

David Bridge

Sleep Coach

Siddhesh Tiwatne

Sleep Coach

Authored by health experts and journalists

Fact checked and science-backed

Medically reviewed by physicians

Meet Our Review Board

Each week our team researches, writes and collaborates with industry leaders to bring you simple easy-to-read sleep information.

David Bridge

Sleep Coach

Siddhesh Tiwatne

Sleep Coach

Authored by health experts and journalists

Fact checked and science-backed

Medically reviewed by physicians