Should You Eat Just Before Bed? – All The Risks Explained

A lot of people are curious to know if they can sleep shortly after eating a meal. Most people think it's bad to go to bed right after you eat. Logically, this makes senses to us. If we have something in our stomach our bodies will have to digest it and make falling asleep next impossible. Also, let's not forget the potential weight gains that come along with late night snacking (is it a myth?).

Well, turns out you're absolutely right for thinking this. Eat your grandma's famous meat and mash potato dish — or even a hard boiled egg — an hour before bed and you will pay the consequences.

That said, it doesn't even have to be a typical dinner meal. The majority of people don't eat a traditional dinner-sized meal and hit the sheets. It's the late night snack addicts that need to worry the most (don't grab those chips!)

For instance, eating too many snacks while watching your favorite movie right before bedtime will definitely hurt your sleep quality (not to mention these habits can lead to unwanted weight gains). Without further ado, let's talk about why you shouldn't eat right before bed.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology confirms that eating small meals just before sleeping does not necessarily lead to weight gains. However, there are other good reasons why you should not sleep immediately after eating a meal.

Calories

It is untrue that late night snacks or eating in the evening will cause significant weight gains. This is because evening calories are the same as daytime calories. You only gain weight if your caloric intake is more than your caloric expenditure during the day.

On the other hand, if you eat excess calories before sleep, then you will definitely gain weight.

Eating Properly

Generally, it is believed that you will gain weight if you eat late. This is because of the different food types that you may eat before sleeping. Eating high-calorie snacks at night or in the evening leads to body fat increase. Those high-calorie snacks include chips, sweets, or cookies.

no junk food before bedAccording to the ‘Go Ask Alice’ site of Columbia University, you should limit your evening snacks. This includes avoiding large meals too. This way you will diminish your chances of gaining excess weight. The website advises you to eat more small meals throughout the day. This will enable you to avoid hunger right before bedtime.

The time you eat is not that important as compared to the quantity you eat. If you want to lose weight, your caloric intake must be less than your caloric expenditure. No matter when you eat – whether early in the morning or late at night. It is as simple as that.

Eat a Few Hours Before Going to Sleep

According to a famous dietitian, you must eat your last big meal of the day at least 2 to 3 hours before going to bed. And, if you are awake ‘till late in the night and 4 to 5 hours have passed after you ate your last big meal, then you can have a little snack before bedtime. In such cases, you can eat snacks that digest promptly, like a piece of fruit. You must avoid beverages like alcohol and coffee in the evening (it's hard to do sometimes). They can negatively affect your sleep.

risk of eating late

Risk of Eating Late

Eating late at night may result in less hunger the next morning. And, if you skip breakfast, you risk to overeat or even eat unhealthy snacks at lunch or later in the evening. When you sleep just after eating a meal, your body is busy digesting your final meal. This can result in various issues, such as indigestion, and a higher risk of a stroke. Also, eating late increases chances of mental exhaustion — this is probably why so many people claim they have nightmares from late night food consumption. Weakened willpower and impaired judgment, can occur as a result. Not to mention the complete exhaustion and lack of energy too — it's one of the worst things you can do if you're body builder.

Conclusion


In conclusion, eating before bedtime can be unhealthy and harmful for you. Although you can eat healthy snacks, you must avoid eating a large meal at least 2 to 3 hours before sleeping. Moreover, you must ensure that your caloric expenditure exceeds your caloric intake. This way you will not gain weight from late evening snacking. And you will also feel much better in the morning too.

Author: Mark Reddick

When I’m not learning about sleep, you can find me hanging out with my wife and close friends.

I absolutely love entrepreneurship and learning how to improve yourself daily. We only get one life, and I want to make it the best one possible.

I hope that everyone that finds our site takes a new approach to sleep. The world needs to stop thinking about it as something “we just do,” but rather something that allows us “to do every day.”

3 Comments
  1. Reply
    Sue July 21, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    I ate big meals right before bed a lot (because if coming home late during the night shifts I had at one point in life) and I developed an inflamed appendix!

  2. Reply
    Tara January 22, 2019 at 9:46 pm

    I definitely feel better if I wait 2-3 hours after eating before going to bed. I don’t feel nearly as groggy and lethargic when I wake up.

  3. Reply
    Jeff January 26, 2019 at 4:53 am

    I am never hungry in the morning , even lunch time and eat about 3 pm to start. I can eat a lot of food just before bed or even wake up and eat , then go back to sleep. I hate breakfast and used to feel like vomiting when I was a child and was forced to eat breakfast. I do not understand what difference it makes when you eat. You have the food in your system being digested and giving you energy, This is true no matter what time of day you eat.

    Eating late doesn’t slow your metabolism. Sleeping uses 90% of the energy BMR as being awake and sitting. Apparently also eating before bed increases your metabolism. Quote below:From healthline.com

    “Eating before bed may cause a temporary increase in your metabolism through what’s called thermogenesis. And don’t worry about eating after 8 pm. Foods consumed after this time don’t magically make your gain more weight — it’s the mindless snacking that does. That said, eating large meals right before bedtime may make it harder to sleep.”

    I never have a problem sleeping, 8 hours a day, no problem, usually wake up 9 am. I am only slightly overweight . 5 feet 8 inches and 170 pounds. As far as I understand primitive hunter gatherers would wake up in the morning and have no food. go out and hunt and not eat until later in the day. Eating a meal makes you sleepy and naturally fall asleep. Office workers get this after eating lunch, the carbs make them sleepy. tryptophan amino acid and carbohydrates make you feel drowsy.

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