Eating before bed is a common habit, but does it really make us sleep better? Many experts—from registered dietitian nutritionists to personal trainers—have different opinions. In the past, it was widely believed that eating before bed would disrupt your sleep and cause weight gain, but new research has shown a more complex picture of nighttime eating.
What to Eat Before Bed
Eating dinner too close to bedtime can increase your risk for acid reflux and lead to a poor night’s sleep. This is because the contents of your stomach return back up your esophagus, which is the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach, after you eat. The pressure from the returning stomach contents can press against a muscle that is responsible for closing off your esophagus, causing acid reflux. The pain that occurs as a result of this is commonly known as heartburn.
Spicy foods, alcohol, carbonated drinks, and fatty and greasy foods can also trigger acid reflux symptoms when eaten too close to bedtime. These foods can interfere with the ability to get a good night’s sleep and may even lead to a poorer quality of life, according to Cleveland Clinic sleep specialist Dr. Michelle Drerup.
However, there are some foods that are actually good for you if eaten before you go to sleep, including protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. It is important to eat small portions and choose foods that are high in nutrients and low in saturated fat, sugar, and sodium.