A woman watching TV while lying on a bed to avoid sleep

Is Eating Before Bed Good or Bad for You?

When the clock keeps ticking, and you keep tossing and turning, the next thing is quite predictable – Grabbing a bowl of snacks and munching. Most people find themselves in the kitchen peeping inside the fridge, looking for something. This habit of eating before bed isn’t a new one. After all, who doesn’t like the idea of pleasuring themselves with mouth-watering snacks? 

Although, there are a lot of misconceptions about eating right before bed. Many people assume that it is not good for your health while others believe it can help you reduce weight. 

In this article, we will find out if it is bad to eat before bed, the effects of eating before bed, what you should eat before going to bed, and what are the common myths people believe in.

Woman eating in front of the refrigerator in the kitchen at late night

Pros and Cons of Eating Before Bed

Well, some say, eat your breakfast like a king, lunch like a lord, and dinner like a pauper. Is it really true? Let’s debunk the eating before bed myths and misconceptions with the pros and cons list. 

Pros

Weight Loss 

Did you know that your body burns calories even when you’re sleeping? Sounds interesting, right? Your body needs the energy to function properly while it recovers from the previous day. And when you decide to sleep on an empty stomach, your body doesn’t get the required fats it needs to burn. This makes your body hold on to fats instead of using them. 

Eating protein before bed in the form of healthy snacks might be helpful for you as it will give the body the energy it needs to burn the fats thereby, promoting weight loss. So the trick here is to eat healthy and avoid eating too much before bed.

Induces Sleep 

A happy gut leads to a happy mind. It’s a proven fact that when you’re full you function properly. So if you have a habit of munching before sleeping, then it might help you get a good night’s sleep. Tryptophan is an amino acid that induces sleep allowing the body to get proper rest. You can be smart about your food choices and consume foods like milk, eggs, cheese, fish & nuts. 

Maintains Blood Sugar Levels 

Eating on time helps the body in regulating blood sugar levels. When you eat fruits, oatmeals, nuts, and whole wheat items help the body to produce higher levels of energy. When you have high energy levels you wake up fresh and active in the morning. 

Satiates Cravings 

Eating before sleeping can be helpful in reducing cravings. It’s mostly at night that people often feel like grabbing a snack. If eaten right, the midnight cravings can be subdued easily. For this, you should know what to eat before bed. Healthy snacks like apples, peaches, or peanut butter give excellent nutrients to the body.

Eating healthy balances the body with the required vitamins & nutrients thereby reducing the cravings for junk food. Therefore, the best advice would be to consume something healthy like eating an apple before bed. It will leave you satisfied and energetic in the morning. 

Lazy man lying on side on sofa and watching TV while eating popcorn late night

Cons 

Insufficient Sleep 

Eating right before sleeping can be the cause of poor sleep. The food needs to be digested before sleeping. If you consume foods like caffeine then it might leave you all pumped up with energy thus making it harder for you to fall asleep. Make sure you avoid foods that are high in caffeine; especially you should avoid eating chocolate before bed, as it is high in caffeine.

Indigestion Problems 

Although lying down after eating might not be ideal. What you need to know is that eating right before sleeping might be the cause of indigestion issues. Many people have a habit of walking after dinner and then going to sleep. Scientifically speaking, the food needs to settle in the stomach and for that, the esophagus needs to be clear. 

Undigested food can easily result in acid refluxes, heartburns and create indigestion problems. Hence, make sure you digest your food 2 hours before sleeping.  

Slow Metabolism 

Although the body functions just the same as when it’s awake, the metabolism of the body might slow down if you consume carbs. As carbs take longer to digest. So you should avoid these too before sleeping. A warm glass of water or milk could be perfect for a good night’s sleep. 

Are you aware of foods that make you sleep? If not, then read our blog on foods that help you sleep better to know more. 

Heavy Food Consumption

Chicken cheeseburger, lasagna, fried chicken, etc., could be heavy to digest and should be consumed at least 4 hours before sleeping. These food items can make it harder for you to sleep.

Why Shouldn’t You Eat Before Bed? 

When you jump straight to bed right after eating the body lays in a horizontal position. This results in acid reflux as it becomes easier for the acid to enter the esophagus. 

Where else, eating large and heavy meals can cause an upset stomach or create stomach cramps. Following this habit can lead to obesity, heart issues, slower metabolism, and can cause you to develop poor sleeping habits. Hence you should know how to stop eating before bed or at least keep a minimum of 3 hours gap between meals and bedtime.

Man looking for snacks in the refrigerator in late night

Should You Go to Bed Hungry? 

To be straightforward, no. Going to bed hungry isn’t ideal. Not eating up to the requirement could lead you to eat more the next day. This can make you obese easily. How? When you do not eat up to your full potential, you create a craving. This craving increases the next day and you tend to eat more. 
According to a study, eating 4 hours before sleeping tends to eat more calories than usual. Now you know, if you skip your dinner you might end up eating more calories the next day. This explains why all of a sudden we crave certain foods like pizza, fries, hamburgers, etc. 

Foods to Eat Before Bed

If you still feel hungry after having dinner then instead of grabbing a bag of chips or fried bacon, you could switch to picking healthier options. As you might not be aware that sweets, spicy, and junk foods are high in calories and elevates cravings. Not just cravings these could also be the reasons for stomach discomforts. 

So, the next time you get the urge of eating ice cream before bed, you can pick these instead: 

  • A bowl of high protein fruits 
  • Low sugar cereal & milk 
  • Boiled vegetables 

How Long Before Bed Should You Stop Eating? 

Still confused about your eating habits? Knowing when to stop eating before bed is the key here. Ideally, you should not eat 3-5 hours before bed. This allows the stomach to properly digest the food and pass it to the intestine. What you should follow is, eating in small quantities. Small quantities would help with the hunger cravings and give your body the required amount of vitamins and nutrients. 

What Is the Best Time to Eat Dinner? 

The best time to eat dinner would be around 7 pm. This gives a lot of time for the stomach to digest the food and aligns properly with the cardiac rhythm of the body. Just keep in mind that the longer duration between meals and bedtime, the better. Why? This allows the body to focus on resting rather than digesting. And this is the reason why eating late at night can make it hard for you to fall asleep.

Summing It Up 

So now you know why eating before bed is bad, what should be your ideal dinner time and what are the effects of eating before bed. If you are hungry even after dinner then you could eat foods that are easy to digest. The takeaway is to avoid large and heavy meals and switch to healthier food options. 

FAQs

Does eating before bed cause nightmares?

This isn’t clear that eating dinner before bed causes nightmares. It might create some discomfort or lead to indigestion. To avoid these indigestion issues, don’t eat before bed or keep the dinner simple and digestible. 

What time should you go to bed?

The ideal time to sleep would be around 10 pm. So you should know, having a healthy sleep cycle helps you stay fresh and active. Hence, you must take care of the sleep cycle. If you are having difficulty sleeping, you can read our blog that gives tips to sleep better

What to eat before bed to lose weight?

Eating fruit before bed can help you stay active the next morning and is a healthy way to control cravings. When you eat fruits like apples and bananas before bed, you tend to give your body the nutrients it requires. If you have any doubts about eating bananas before bed then, you can go through the link to know more. 

Does eating late cause belly fat?

No. You won’t get fat if you eat late in the night. What you eat is the major cause of your fatness. Poor food choices lead to unhealthy eating habits which then increase weight.