Eating before bed has been reported to cause weight gain and disrupt the quality of your sleep. However, with so much information out there, it can be difficult trying to discover what’s true and what’s false.
Our post takes you through the myths associated with sleeping after eating, the negative effects that it can have on your body, as well as how to approach eating food before going to bed without impacting your health.
Can You Gain When You Sleep After Eating?
There are many rumors associated with what happens to the body when you sleep immediately after eating, and one of these problems is weight gain. You may be glad to hear that eating and sleeping afterward doesn’t cause you to gain weight.
Eating in a caloric surplus is what leads to your body gaining weight, no matter what time of the day or night you choose to eat. The total number of calories that you eat every day is the main factor that contributes to your body gaining or losing weight.
As long as your body has burned off more calories than it has consumed, there’s no way for it to store fat if you’ve eaten a late dinner before bed. The real weight gain issue arises when people eat dinner earlier on and get hungrier at night.
This can lead to you eating in a caloric surplus closer to the time you go to sleep which can lead to weight gain. When it comes to snacking or chips, chocolate, and other food that’s readily available at home, it becomes tempting to continue eating closer to bedtime.
If you get hungry before going to sleep, you don’t need to feel like you’re starving yourself. Instead, you can opt for healthier snacks that are lower in calories. Foods such as whole grains, oats, and yogurts can be great late-night snacks that keep your filled up and help you prevent you from going into a caloric surplus.
How Long Should You Wait To Sleep After Eating?
It’s recommended that you eat your last meal for approximately 2 hours or more before your desired bedtime. If you often like lying down after eating, try to wait for at least a couple of hours to avoid digestion problems. In fact, it has even been suggested to eat your last meal 4 hours before lying down to air your digestive system in being able to function properly.
Feeling sleepy after eating a large meal is pretty common. This is because you’ve given your body a lot of food that it needs to spend time and energy on digesting which causes more blood to be drawn to your organs.
One of the areas that blood is usually drawn from when digesting large meals is the brain, which is why people usually feel tired after eating. Try to fight the urge to lay down or fall asleep for 2-4 hours after eating to let your body digest your food.
Does Eating Before Bed Make You Gain Weight
So, sleeping after eating doesn’t directly correlate to weight gain. However, a lack of sleep has been associated with weight gain. Research has found that people suffering from sleep conditions such as insomnia and sleep apnea are at a higher risk of gaining weight.
This is because poor quality sleep leads to the leptin hormone being produced in smaller quantities. Lower leptin hormone levels can lead to you feeling hungrier than usual. When you have a good quality of sleep, your leptin hormone is produced in higher quantities which can help to control your hunger. When you’re low on sleep, the ghrelin hormone can be released which makes it harder for you to control hunger cravings.
Negative Health Effects Of Sleeping After Eating
While sleeping right after eating doesn’t cause weight gain in itself, it’s still not recommended to eat right before bed. This is because lying down after eating can lead to some unwanted side effects.
Acid reflux is one of the uncomfortable side effects that you may experience when lying down straight after eating. You experience acid reflux because the valve from your esophagus to your stomach isn’t able to close like usual. As a result, the acid from your stomach can travel upwards and cause a burning feeling.
Heartburn is a less extreme form of acid reflux that also involves your stomach acid making its way up to your chest and throat to cause uncomfortable feelings.
One of the more worrying side effects of sleeping right after eating is a stroke. Studies have discovered that people who wait longer periods to sleep after eating have a lower chance of experiencing a stroke. Having said that, this is a much less common problem compared to heartburn and acid reflux.
It should also be noted that strokes are heavily dependent on family history and other elements of your health too.
Other Things That Can Interfere With Sleep
If you’ve been struggling to sleep soundly at night, several common things could be the cause. One of the big ones is drinking tea too close to your bedtime. While drinking a hot cup of tea can help you relax and unwind, it can also cause too much acidity in your digestive system which can be uncomfortable.
Read next: Bedtime Meditation: Tips To Meditate & Sleep Better
Eating fruit right before going to bed is also a bad idea because of the acidity levels. If you’re opting for a healthy snack after having your dinner, be sure to eat any fruit an hour or two before sleeping.
Taking hot showers and baths also isn’t recommended directly after eating. This is because the hot temperatures cause blood flow to be directed to the hands and feet rather than focusing on digestion. As a result, the digestion process can take longer and make it difficult for you to sleep.
Hopefully, you’ve gained valuable information on whether or not it’s ok to eat before bed. If it happens every once in a while, the negative effects aren’t going to have too much of an impact on your overall quality of sleep.
However, if you always end up eating too close to your bedtime, you’re decreasing your chances of being able to have a restful night’s sleep due to heartburn and acid reflux. Your body is also more active when digesting food which makes it difficult for you to switch off and sleep.
So, try to have your last meal at least 2 hours before sleeping to help your body digest the food properly before you lay down for the night.