It’s time to hit the sack but dinner seems like it was ages ago and now you’re hungry again. Everyone knows it’s not healthy to go to sleep on a full stomach and so do you, but you wouldn’t want to try falling asleep while your stomach is rumbling? So what’s the best option?
Hunger can affect sleep quality
Besides the discomfort hunger pains bring, when we’re hungry our brains and bodies are alert and prepared to “hunt for food” (although the modern hunt translates to a walk to the fridge). This may prevent you from sleeping well at night and wake up so hungry that you end up overeating at breakfast.
But this doesn’t happen to everyone. Other people can sleep very well (actually better) when they go to bed hungry and don’t go overboard with the breakfast next day. If you’re the first case you definitely shouldn’t go to sleep while you’re hungry.
Why should you not eat too much before bedtime
A rich meal eaten right before going to bed can cause indigestion and as a result poor sleep. Concerning weight-gain, the same food eaten at any other hour will translate in the same number of calories so this is not the problem here.
The problem appears if you exceed your daily calorie requirements with that last snack. Of course nothing happens if you only do this occasionally, but on long term it will surely translate into weight-gain.
Sleep quality and irregular eating habits
Our bodies work better when we have a regular eating schedule. Eating at approximately the same hours every day can even help us sleep better. Sneaking in an unexpected snack (like before bedtime or even in the middle of the night) can affect sleep quality.
The emergency solution
Eating before your night’s sleep is not that bad if you choose the right food and limit the amount. Firstly, you should avoid foods that contain sugars and stimulants like caffeine and alcohol. Nicotine is also a stimulant so don’t smoke right before going to bed. You should also avoid spicy foods as they boost your metabolism giving your body an energy boost, which can make you have a hard time trying to fall asleep.
A light snack containing vitamins and minerals with a calming effect is your best bet. Calcium and magnesium serve this purpose well. You can get your dose of calcium from foods such as dairy, broccoli, tofu and almonds among others. Magnesium-rich foods include bananas, yoghurt, nuts and leafy greens (such as spinach). Milk has both calcium and magnesium, which is why a glass of warm milk is one of the most popular drinks before going to bed.
The ideal solution
Obviously, the best option is to not be hungry before bedtime so you wouldn’t have to eat a snack at all, especially if it’s not included in your usual meal schedule (like I said above, eating at irregular hours can affect sleep quality).
To prevent such a problem from ever occurring, make sure you eat your dinner about 3 hours before bedtime. It’s recommended you choose healthy foods focusing on including good sources of protein and fat, while keeping carbs to a minimum. This will give you increased satiety, preventing you from being hungry too soon, thus you can rest assured you’d get a good night sleep and not be hungry too soon after your last meal.