The truth is, it’s actually okay to eat just before you go to bed, but it depends on what and how much you eat. While eating a piece of apple or drinking a glass of milk before bedtime is perfectly fine, feasting on junk food, alcohol, and other unhealthy fare before sleeping can be a cause for a number of health problems. The reason is that the human body is not designed to consume a big meal and collapse on the bed afterwards. If you have a habit of snacking or eating a full meal right before you go to sleep, let these five reasons compel you to do otherwise.
This is perhaps the most common adverse effect of lying down to sleep right after having a full meal. You see, every time you eat, your stomach churns to mix gastric acid with food to help break it down. Right above your stomach is the lower esophageal sphincter that prevents food from travelling back up into the esophagus. When you lie down on a full stomach, excess food can press against the esophageal sphincter, preventing it from efficiently stopping contents from your stomach to re-enter the esophagus. This is what causes acid reflux, which in turn results to heartburn. To avoid this problem, try not to recline for at least three hours right after a large meal. Another way to prevent it is to eat smaller portions of food in the evening. This will give your digestive system an easier time breaking down food.
Increased Chance for Weight Gain
Yes, it’s a myth that obesity rate can be connected to the time of day at which you eat, but you will have a higher chance for gaining weight if you eat too much at night right before bedtime. However, the problem lies in the fact that foods you often eat in the evening right before you go to bed aren’t often healthy. Potato chips, pizza, candies, cookies, chocolate, and even ice cream – these are what evening-eaters usually have for their midnight snack, and these aren’t only unhealthy, but are also very easy to overindulge.
Insomnia And Other Sleep Disorders
Insomnia is the most common sleep problem many Americans face. While there are a number of reasons that a person has the inability to fall and stay asleep at night, among the major contributors is overeating in the evening. Caffeine and alcohol, in particular, can worsen symptoms of insomnia, especially when they are consumer near bedtime. In the same manner, however, going to bed on an empty stomach can also trigger insomnia and other sleep problems. Aside from a doctor’s recommended treatment for insomnia, the best way to prevent sleep disorders is to have an evening snack composing of carbohydrates- and protein-rich foods. Milk and cereal are especially effective because such foods can promote calmness and relaxation.
If you think bedtime eating habits do not have serious, or even life-threatening repercussions, think again. This is especially true if you are asthmatic. A study done in 2004 and printed in The American Journal on Gastroenterology revealed that people with asthma who ate right before bedtime had significantly more daytime and nighttime gastroesophageal reflux symptoms, including wheezing, coughing, and even suffocation.
Diabetes can find it really tricky deciding whether or not to eat right before bedtime, because eating the wrong food too close to going to sleep can lead to an increase in blood sugar levels the next day. On the other hand, not eating anything at all before bedtime can result to morning hypoglycemia. The key is to eat a low-calorie snack (sugar-free, of course), such as baby carrots and gelatin if you feel hungry late in the evening. If you don’t find that option satisfying, have a small serving of whole-grain crackers instead, or some food rich in protein, such as cottage cheese. Make sure you talk to your doctor first before making any adjustments to your diet and medication.
Again, there is nothing wrong with eating too close to bedtime, on condition that you carefully choose what you eat and how much you eat. Your overall health also plays a huge factor on how eating right before going to bed would affect you. The key is always to eat in moderation. Overeating, after all, is never healthy, whether it’s done in the evening or during the day.