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There seems to be an endless debate on is it bad to eat before bed or not. Some theories suggest eating before bed can be problematic, while others suggest differently.
However, there's also a theory of gaining weight and lowering metabolism because of nocturnal snacking. But, some believe that snacking or eating dinner before bed helps in better sleep.
But, why you shouldn't eat before bed, or why you should, is wholly based on an individual and the type of food that must and mustn't be consumed. So, scroll down and know which category you fall under.
Is It Bad to Eat Before Bed?
According to conventional wisdom, eating right before bed is likely to increase weight due to slower metabolism at night. However, today's belief is one can gain weight regardless of when eaten since calories are calories, and consuming extra can be considered overeating.
Eating before sleeping is taboo for some people, but eating before bed for some people is necessary. For example, when a diabetic patient takes a specific medication or insulin, they may need a bedtime snack to avoid dropping blood sugar levels during sleep.
However, there are also studies quoting that eating food before bed does not impact sleep or body weight. In fact, its effects are positive. This concludes that there can be benefits to eating before bed.
Potential Benefits of Eating Before Bed
There are some potential benefits of eating before bed, which have a strong impression on the body and mind. So, let us look at the potential benefits while bursting some eating before bed myths.
Eating late at night can help you lose weight. If your routine is not too rigorous or lenient, like eating large portions of food during the day and having a light snack before bed instead of continuous 'grazing,' eating late at night can promote weight loss or have no impact.
And according to the US Department of Agriculture, "it does not matter what time of day you eat; what and how much you eat and how much physical activity you do during the whole day determines whether you gain, lose, or maintain your weight."
Eating is one of life's best pleasures, and then comes sleep; mixing the two gets better because eating before bed may help a person achieve a well-rested night. However, choosing sleep-inducing food that contains tryptophan and melatonin doesn't just benefit the body but also helps satiate hunger pangs.
For example, milk, eggs, nuts, and beans contain tryptophan, attributed to its mild sedative effects that coax the body to sleep. In contrast, cherries, walnuts, bananas, and oats contain melatonin, a hormone that exerts 'a hypnotic effect' and helps improve sleep.
Manage Sugar Level
In the morning, the liver produces more glucose that helps the body to kick start the day. But with type 1-diabetic patients, reporting low sugar levels in the morning can be burdensome. Hence for them, it is necessary to have a night snack.
However, it is also important to note what to eat before bed because eating anything can be risky. Try having something with complex carbs, protein, and fat, like fruit juice (½ cup), raisins, dry fruits, or small fresh fruit.
Health Risks of Eating Before Bed
Autumn brings winter; likewise, eating before bed might be advantageous, but eating too much before bed can be disadvantageous. So, know these cons and avoid them as much as possible. Some of the side effects of eating before bed are:
While a person is awake late at night or during the evening, they tend to feel the hungriest, and cravings at night are usually hellish. With the tummy demanding something that's not fruits, dry fruits, or anything healthy, it can end up with binging unhealthy snacks, like chips, cookies, fast food, and other easy-to-grab high calories— before the TV.
Studies show that because of sleep deprivation, certain hormone secretion is high in the stomach called ghrelin, responsible for uncontrollable hunger resulting in overeating and extra calories.
Eating, Just Because...
People often eat just because… it can be because of boredom, stress, or any other psychological reason instead of hunger. It is better to stop and think of the reasons you want to eat, and it could be your body feeling a little dehydrated and needs a glass of water.
Eating before bed usually ends up in overeating, and in many situations lying down after eating can cause acid reflux. Acid reflux is when the contents flow back up from the stomach to the esophagus. This could cause heartburn or a false taste with the rising, burning sensation in the throat.
So, don't eat before bed or avoid lying or sitting for some time right after eating; doing so will ease the burning sensation in the belly and maybe help in digestion.
It is true. Studies revealed that metabolism at night is slower, and some people are sedentary during the day, which may aggravate the situation further because our body is made to work during the day and sleeps at night.
So when the night rolls in, the body's functioning starts to slow down, preparing itself to rest. And eating before bed, especially with high carbs, can make it harder to digest.
Eating before bed can lead to unhealthy habits, and if the mind is under constant stress, things may go out of hand. Consciously eating before bed can lead to eating unconsciously, literally.
Studies reported a sleep disorder known as a nocturnal-sleep eating disorder. It is similar to sleepwalking; instead, while asleep, people make a course of a meal and eat it and will not remember their actions in the morning.
What to Eat Before Bed?
Sleep is essential for a healthy lifestyle, but eating before bed can be unhealthy if you do not choose the correct nourishments. Some sleep-inducing foods to eat before bed are fulfilling and help in a well-rested night.
Almonds are a kind of tree nut beneficial for many reasons like healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber, and antioxidants, which helps lower the risk of chronic diseases like type 2-diabetes and heart disease.
Antioxidants keep cells from inflammation that can lead to chronic diseases. In addition, almonds, along with other types of nuts, are a good source of the hormone melatonin, which signals the body to prepare to sleep.
Eating protein before bed helps promote better sleep, and peanut butter is the best source of highly nutritious and rich protein, which reduces food cravings. It also contains tryptophan which enhances sleep quality. Eating peanut butter before bed also boosts metabolism while you sleep.
Apples are a good source of potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C, which help promote better sleep quality. Vitamin C is also beneficial for managing blood sugar, low blood pressure, and improving breathing.
Although eating an apple before bed may contribute to sleep; however, apples do not have enough supplements to make anyone fall asleep. Even if it can't make one fall asleep, it shouldn't inhibit sleep either.
Kiwis are nutritious and contain multiple supplements. They are beneficial for digestion, reduce inflammation, and help manage cholesterol.
Studies reveal the potential of kiwi in improving sleep. Twenty-four subjects (men and women included) consumed two kiwis for 2hours before going to bed for about four weeks. Reports concluded that kiwi fruit helped the subjects with better sleep at night and a refreshed morning.
Walnuts are abundant in many nutrients, such as over 19 vitamins and minerals. They are mainly studied for their ability to control cholesterol and prevent primary heart disease.
Walnuts are a great source of melatonin, promoting better sleep quality. Although there haven't been any studies focusing on this particular matter, even so, if you want a healthy night snack, walnuts might not be a bad option.
What Not to Eat Before Bed?
Eating before bed might be allowed, but that doesn't mean everything in the kitchen is the limit. If there are foods that improve sleep quality, some foods aren't suitable for eating before bed.
A sweet ice cream pint in the refrigerator might call out your name, and the voice is particularly getting louder at night, making it irresistible. But stop the steps; eating ice cream before bed may hamper your sleep.
Because one, it may take longer to digest; and the second, the sugar in it will spike up the energy and alert the body and mind.
It's common knowledge that sleep and caffeine do not go together, and the same goes for chocolates. The amount of caffeine in the chocolate might be less, but that's the 'sneaky devil,' and eating chocolate before bed robs off sleep. Because along with caffeine, it also contains amino acid, which makes the mind alert.
Fatty foods are easy to get and yummy to eat. But eating them before going to bed might burden the stomach since fried greasy and cheesy food are hard to digest and can lead to indigestion.
Eating fruits before bed is alright, but avoid any citrusy ones. While no one ever said citrus to be harmful but for the night snack, it is better to avoid it; it is mainly because of 'tyramine,' a type of amino acid that is responsible for alerting the mind.
Best Time to Eat Dinner
Four to five hours before bed is the best time to eat dinner because later, the metabolism might start to slow down. And the longer the time gap between the last meal and bedtime is, the better. This way, the food could get digested better.
Studies show that eating dinner two hours before bed might lead to many health-related problems like diabetes, indigestion, and obesity.
When to Stop Eating Before Bed?
Knowing the best time to eat dinner isn't enough. One must be aware of how long before bed should you stop eating. It is essential since you might want a small snack between those five to four-hour gaps, and it would be best if you could stop eating one to three hours before bed.
Whether eating before bed ticks up or down the weight, it does not matter since weight isn't the sole reason for living. But if there are issues like heartburn, indigestion, or sleep quality, take note of the foods consumed within four hours before bed.
However, at the end of the day—you can have snacks and chill before the TV. And make sure to have proteins and a few carbs. It'll satiate the hunger pangs and help promote better sleep quality since going to bed empty stomach isn't an option either.