Eating Before Sleep – How Long To Wait For Sleep And What Are The Disadvantages?
We bet most of us have heard that eating before going to bed is bad for health and you will trouble falling sleep. But many of us might not know the risks associated with it and how long should we wait between night meal and sleeping.
Whether we are munching a midnight snack or eating the dinner late, learning the time gap between dinner and sleep is vital. This would let you know the symptoms and discomfort you might face before sleep or all throughout the night. But before talking about the disadvantages, it is pertinent to know the time gap between eating and sleeping and the complex relationship between food and sleep.
How Long A Person Should Wait Between Dinner And Bedtime?
Let’s start by breaking the myth that anything you eat before bedtime turns into fat after sometime. There is plethora of evidence against this myth. But in general, there are good reasons we should wait 2-3 hours before sleeping. The most obvious point is that this time gap helps in digestion and the food in the stomach move into the small intestine.
Even most of us feel sleepy right after eating, it’s a big no-no for our body. This is because our body is not at the most upright position to digest the food. So until you catch some Z's, there must be a good time gap after taking meals as to prevent interference with the digestive process.
Relationship Between Food and Sleep
It’s not all about the time gap only. There are substances in some foods that may boost your sleepy quotient. Foods such as potatoes, cherries, nuts and bananas contains decent amount of tryptophan. A tryptophan is an amino acid that metabolizes into sleep inducing hormones and neurotransmitter such as melatonin and serotonin.
Other foods containing carbs and dairy products contain small amount of sleep inducing agents. So, foods we eat directly affect our brain and contribute to sleep.
The Drawbacks of Eating Right Before Bedtime
Those who are eating close to bedtime should start paying attention to their eating habits as it may harm their quality of sleep. If you are eating too much, the feeling of fullness may prevent you from sleeping properly through the night. On the other hand, if you ate little, the hunger pangs will keep you awake. So take on a middle path when eating at night.
Tip – Get an average sized snack at dinner such as fiber rich cereal with milk. It might help you sleep better.
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If you are one of those who lay flat right after consuming a large meal, you should give up this habit today. At first, you might feel good while having that lip-smacking food, but after that when your body is resting, the digestive system might see it as a herculean task. This may lead to heartburn due to excessive amount of acid. The heartburn may radiate to chest and up to the throat causing disruption in sleeping.
Tip – Avoid heavy meals at night, especially those foods which are spicy and fatty in nature. You can have whole grain toast or low-fat yogurt that is light on your stomach.
It’s a myth that eating before bedtime will convert the food into fat and make you gain weight. However, a calorie is a calorie, you must keep a tab what you are eating. It’s the type of food and how much you are eating that matter, not always the timing. If you are eating unwanted calorific foods such as ice cream, potato chips, burgers or pizza, you are certainly adding a bunch of weight to your body.
Tip – Spare some time to make salad or oatmeal instead of high calorie foods.
Acid Reflux or GERD
With improper digestion, one could easily become a victim of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). The disease is characterized by repeated acid reflux that occurs in people who lay down right after eating. This happens when the esophagus is incapable of constricting properly, giving rise to stomach acid.
Tip – Give at least 3 hours gap between taking meal and lying down for sleep. Giving this amount of gap will lower down acid activities by the time you go to bed for sleep.
This not a rocket science and mostly, you don’t need any specialist to guide you through all these. Just follow these tips and you will find a world of difference in your lifestyle.