A girl eating before bed while watching TV

Eating Before Bed: Everything You Need to Know

Posted By Vaibhavi K on Jul 25, 2021

Munching delicious snacks before bedtime is the most favorite bedtime routine for many of us. There are mixed opinions regarding eating before bed – While some consider it to be an unhealthy practice, others don’t. Our detailed guide will help you understand whether snacking before bed has any effects on your health.

Pros and Cons of Eating Before Bed

Pros

Natural Weightloss

Even while sleeping, our body needs the energy to carry out a few processes. When you go to bed hungry, your body retains the carbs and fats instead of using them to carry out functions—consuming snacks before bedtime provides you the energy to recover during the night and avoids retention of carbs and fats.

Increases Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an amino acid that increases the levels of serotonin and melatonin in our body. We cannot produce tryptophan naturally. However, you can consume tryptophan-rich foods such as cheese, eggs, nuts, fish, and milk to compose the required tryptophan in your body.

Increases Melatonin

Melatonin regulates sleep by controlling the body’s sleep cycle. The composition of melatonin depends on exposure to light. However, consuming cherries, oats, tomatoes, and cherries also increase the level of melatonin.

Improves Sleep Quality

A heavy meal before sleeping makes you feel sleepy. However, there is a fine line between eating healthy food and sleeping and getting indigestion by eating unhealthy food. Healthy habits like eating an apple before bed provide necessary nutrients and improve your sleep quality.

Maintain Sugar Levels

Consuming healthy foods like fruits, oatmeal, and wheat bread controls sugar levels. Low levels of sugar lead to less energy the following day.

Cons

Inadequate Sleep

Consuming foods containing caffeine and chocolate may boost you with a lot of energy but may also disrupt your sleep schedule leading to inadequate sleep.

Slower Metabolism

Consuming high carbs before going to bed can lead to a slower metabolism which leads to weight gain.

Indigestion

Consuming heavy foods before sleeping may lead to stomach pains and discomfort.

Obesity

High-calorie foods like junk food, fried foods, and sugary foods may store more energy than you consume, causing obesity.

Acid Reflux

Eating heavy foods and lying down after eating may trigger the stomach acid to enter the esophagus and cause acid reflux.

Heart Burn

Consuming spicy foods can lead to burning sensations in the chest, which may disrupt your sleep.

Diabetes

Consuming high carbs foods increase sugar levels, and if your body is unable to produce the required amount of insulin may lead to diabetes.

Heart Disease

Regular consumption of junk food before sleeping can clog the arteries with cholesterol and fatty deposits. It increases the risk of heart diseases like high blood pressure and arrhythmia. 

Should You Go to Bed Hungry?

Although we recommend you avoid late-night foods, you should not go to bed hungry. Even during sleep, your body continues to function, requiring constant energy. Your body has less energy to recover if you go to bed hungry. Also, less energy means that your body retains the existing fats, which leads to weight gain.

Foods to Eat Before Bed 

You might have understood the potential threats of eating before bed but if you still feel hungry before sleeping, try consuming healthy foods. Consuming junk foods and sugary drinks, spicy foods, dark chocolate, or eating ice cream before bed may increase your food cravings. These foods may also lead to acid reflux and indigestion, and heartburn at night.

Consume healthy nighttime snacks that include:

  • Fruits
  • Veggies
  • Cheese 
  • Peanut butter
  • Low-sugar cereal
  • Low-fat milk

Check out our blog on consuming Magnesium for Sleep to understand whether you should take magnesium for sleep or not.

How Long Before Bed Should You Stop Eating? 

According to nutritionists, you must stop eating about three hours before bedtime. It allows proper digestion of your food and gives enough time for food contents to move into your small intestine. It may prevent issues like heartburn, insomnia, indigestion, and acid reflux.

What Is the Best Time to Eat Dinner?

It would be best to enjoy your dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime; it allows the stomach to digest the food properly and gives enough time for food to move into your small intestine. It helps you focus on preparing for sleep when you are near bedtime. Eating fruits before bed, raw veggies, cheese and crackers, peanut butter, Low-sugar cereal, and low-fat milk or protein-rich foods will not only satisfy your hunger pains but will promote sleep.

American family having dinner together

The Final Word

By now, you might have understood why eating before bed is bad. Bedtime cravings are irresistible but can be equally problematic. It can lead to weight gain, heartburn, indigestion, and whatnot.

Still, if you cannot resist your hunger, consume healthy foods that improve your sleep quality. Avoid heavy meals, spicy cuisines, sweet or fatty foods before hitting the bed.

Hopefully, the guide above has answered all your questions related to eating before bed, and the next time you crave before bed, you have your fruits and veggies ready to attack.

Check out our blog on bad sleeping habits to get some valuable tips on getting over those weird sleeping habits.

FAQs

Does eating before bed cause nightmares?

Yes, late-night snacks cause the brain to be more active during the REM cycle, leading to weird nightmares. It is generally a good idea to have a gap between sleeping and eating because it can be bad to eat before bed.

What is the best time to go to bed?

The best time for adults to go to bed is between 10:00 and 11:00 p.m. You are more likely to have a decent sleep between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m.

What should I eat at night to lose weight?

Eating protein before bed is an excellent way to lose weight. Also, consuming foods such as Greek Yogurt, cherries, protein shake, cottage cheese, banana, chocolate milk, and peanut butter before bed will help you lose weight.

Does eating late cause belly fat?

Eating late at night does not cause belly fat; however, consuming unhealthy foods such as junk foods, sweets can lead to weight gain. Consuming protein-rich foods such as peanut butter, protein shake, cottage cheese, fruits, and veggies is unlikely to get belly fat.

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