Everyone loves a midnight snack. But could eating before bed actually be bad for you? We’ve all been told that eating a meal before bed can have unhealthy side effects, the biggest being weight gain. But depending on what you eat, this might not necessarily be the case. So, how does eating before sleep really affect your body?

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Weight Gain

Your body gains weight when you take in more calories than you are burning off. This is the case no matter when you eat. Going to sleep directly after you eat means your body doesn’t get a chance to burn off those calories. And, eating a big meal and then hitting the couch can be just as harmful.

Eating an early dinner allows your body time to burn off those unwanted calories before going to sleep. Late night snacks tend to be high calorie foods, such as ice cream or potato chips, so it’s more important to watch the types of foods you are eating before sleep rather than when you are eating them.

Trouble Sleeping

Eating before bed can also affect how well you sleep during the night. Fatty or heavy foods may cause bloating and stomach pain that can keep you tossing and turning. Also, spicy foods that cause heartburn or indigestion can keep you from getting a good night’s rest.

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While it is important to watch what you eat before bed, eating a small healthy snack might not be a bad idea. Going to bed with a growling stomach can be just as uncomfortable as eating too much. This can also keep you from binge eating at breakfast in the morning.

What to Eat Before Bed

While it is important to watch what you eat before bed,there are some healthy options. If done the right way, snacking before bed might actually be healthy. Choosing the right foods can help you sleep better and feel energized the next day. Some healthy bed time snacks include:

It is important to remember that it is not necessary when you are eating but what and how much you are eating that might be affecting your sleep and causing you to gain weight.

About Digestive Disorders

The UPMC Digestive Disorders Center cares for a wide range of gastrointestinal (GI) conditions and diseases, from diagnosis to treatment. Whether your digestive condition is common or complicated, our experts can help. Upon referral from your physician, we coordinate your testing and treatment. If you have a complicated condition, we can refer you to one of UPMC’s digestive health centers of excellence. Find a GI doctor near you.