Food is an essential part of life. While it is essential to eat enough food to get the nutrition you need for your body, you must also be careful about when you eat. Eating too late in the night can have devastating effects on your sleep. The same is true if you sleep hungry.
So how does one strike a balance between too much or little food before sleep? When is the ideal time to eat?
The period between dinner and bedtime is a danger zone. The evening is the time of day when most people get to relax after a long day of work. It is during this time that many people are likely to overeat. After dinner, one may feel tempted to reach for a snack because of the simple pleasure of doing nothing.
You need to be careful about not only the types of food you choose to eat but also how close to bedtime you eat them. Doctors and scientists suggest that you should eat your last meal and snack 2-3 hours before you go to bed.
The Relationship between Food and Sleep Is Complex
While it might not be wise to eat right before bed, certain foods help you feel more relaxed if you take them before bedtime. For instance, a warm glass of milk can make you relax mentally and be ready for bed. It is a great bedtime routine for people who have sleep disorders.
At the same time, something like alcohol may seem like a great idea because it makes you sleepy at first. However, it wears off quickly and can fragment sleep. It may also worsen sleep apnea. There is also some evidence that shows that eating before bed disrupts the circadian rhythm and sends signals of wakefulness to the brain.
Increased Weight Gain
If you are trying to lose a couple of pounds or maintain your weight, you have to make sure that your last meals are not too close to your bedtime. Weight gain is mainly because of eating more calories than you can burn. When you are going to bed, you will not be engaging in calorie-burning activities. Therefore, those potato chips or ice cream at night can cause an increase in weight. It is also easy to overeat at night, especially if you are stressed about your day or the previous day. To avoid this, it is always best to eat a balanced meal, or one snack if you must and drink plenty of water. If you feel restless before bed, go for fruit like an apple or a banana.
Causes Sleep Disruption
If you have noticed that you have trouble falling asleep or even sleeping the whole night, you need to pay closer attention to your eating habits. Feeling like grabbing a snack? If you must get a snack before bed, it is better to go for a modest-size, fiber-filled, filling snack. Doing so helps improve your digestion thus making you feel less bloated. Never go for fatty or spicy meals for supper because these will cause heartburn and digestive problems, which are sleep disrupters. Food groups known to increase relaxation are proteins and complex carbs.
It Is Bad For Your Reflux
In the evenings, people are usually the hungriest. It is also the time when most people take snacks, and binge eats when watching movies or reading. Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a common condition that affects around 20% of the people living in America. This condition is due to stomach acid splashing back into the throat. The most common symptoms of GERD are heartburn, worse asthma attacks, and a lump in the throat. If you notice any of these symptoms, you may want to avoid snacking before bed.
The symptoms get worse before bed because you are lying down. Lying down on bed makes it easier for the acid to splash back up into the throat. For better sleep, make your dinners less fatty and make sure you eat at least 2 hours before going to bed. You should also avoid caffeine, hot spices, and alcohol.
You Will Have More Stable Blood Sugar in the Morning
In the morning, your body starts to produce extra sugar to give you enough energy to start the day. For people who do not have diabetes, these surges may not mean much. However, for a person with diabetes, this is not good. This is why most diabetics wake up in the morning with high blood sugar even if they have not eaten anything. This condition is called the dawn phenomenon. For people who suffer from this condition, it is a good idea to eat 2-3 hours before bed to give your body time to digest the foods.
However, people who have nocturnal hypoglycemia during the night are advised to eat a snack before bed for better quality sleep. For these conditions, you may have to speak to your physician so that he or she can offer you the best advice on what you need to do before bed.
While it is recommended that you avoid all forms of foods 2 hours before bed, it may not always be possible. Sometimes you feel a craving for something that will not let you sleep. In such cases, if you must, consider eating foods that contain small amounts of melatonin or serotonin. These hormones send messages of being relaxed to the brain and make you sleep better. A great example of such foods is cherries. Stay away from any foods that trigger wakefulness or add short bursts of energy to your body.