The question of whether or not you should be munching before bed is a debate that has been going on for a while.
Some people think that it’s an absolute no-no, pointing to a slower metabolism and even weight gain as the chief reasons why you should forget about it.
For some people though, eating before bed isn’t as terrible as it sounds, especially if it’s in moderation and controlled.
As much as we’d like to have full control over our eating and sleeping habits, some habits are hard to break. There are days when you feel like having a bite or two before going to bed, and it won’t be the end of the world if you choose to give in to your cravings.
The key is to understand what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to food. The end goal is of course to ensure that you have a good night’s sleep, and as long as you understand how to achieve this, then you’ll be fine.
When Eating Before Sleep is a Terrible Idea
The argument of those who think eating before sleep is a bad idea isn’t entirely unfounded. There’s a reason why they think this is so, and depending on your eating and sleeping habits, this can indeed be potentially harmful to your health.
Eating before sleep is a terrible idea under the following circumstances:
When you eat far too much, too close to bedtime
Our bodies are designed to digest the food that we eat pretty efficiently, but we can still help it out when we sit or stand, allowing gravity to do its magic. This is not possible when we’re lying down.
In fact, try lying down after a very big meal, and it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll feel really uncomfortable. Your body needs time to digest the food, and this is the reasoning behind not eating at least a few hours before bedtime.
You should avoid eating heavy meals at night because your body will be at rest, and you won’t be able to burn off the calories in the same way you would normally burn it off through your activities during the day.
When you’re prone to acid reflux
Some people are more prone to heartburn than others, and eating before bedtime is a guaranteed way to make this worse.
If you’re prone to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is a common condition that affects almost half of Western populations, then lying down with a full stomach will only make it easier for the stomach acids to splash back up in your throat.
You know how unpleasant this feeling is, so you want to avoid it as much as you can.
When you’re trying to lose weight
Eating too close to bedtime slows down your metabolism, but that’s not the only thing that may lead to weight gain.
We tend to be hungrier at night so we crave for all the wrong things, and this leads to us eating junk food and other food items that are rich in fat. This gives us additional calories that we can no longer burn because we’re about to sleep.
When you’re eating in your bedroom
When you have the habit of eating before sleeping, this can lead to the other bad habit of eating in your bed.
This brings crumbs everywhere and makes it harder for you to clean your bedroom. It also brings in all the critters and bugs.
When you eat the wrong kinds of food
There’s food that you can snack on and can actually help promote sleep, but there’s also food that will do the exact opposite.
Aside from the big meals, stay away from fatty, protein-heavy, salty snacks before sleeping. Sugar is also not a good idea.
It’s also not a good idea to take coffee, tea, soda, and dark chocolate (which contains caffeine).
Food That You Can Turn To
While it seems that it’s better if you just avoid eating before bedtime altogether, there are actually times when this is beneficial.
There are healthy types of food that when taken in moderation can actually help you sleep, and help your blood sugars stabilize.
Instead of your usual go-to snacks, you can turn to these instead:
- Cherries – This healthy fruit naturally contains melatonin, so you can choose to munch on these instead of sugary treats or junk food.
- Bananas – Magnesium and potassium can naturally be found in bananas, and this can help relax your muscles and make you sleepy.
- Nuts – If you’re craving for something salty, you can eat a handful of walnuts or almonds instead of an entire bag of potato chips.
- Chamomile tea – You can pair the calming effects of chamomile tea with honey, which slightly raises your blood sugar levels and allows tryptophan to enter your brain.