Stop Eating 2 Hours Before Bed
In Collaboration with Jackie Newgent, RDN
“I can now sleep better because [my food] doesn’t have to digest while I’m sleeping.” -@TBollen
“I feel more relaxed and not so heavy when sleeping. If I eat right before bed my stomach hurts in the morning and all night; now that I stop eating 2 hours before bed my stomach doesn’t hurt and I sleep better.” -@lizzyloo22
What’s In & What’s Out
- No solid food less than 2 hours before bedtime.
- Liquids are allowed. (Sip, don’t gulp!)
- Clear broth is allowed.
- If you slip, no biggie. Slipping means you’re trying, which is what counts! You can get back on track tomorrow.
Why This Is A Good Idea
Eating less than 2 hours before bed can be counterproductive. First, sleep slows down your digestion which prevents you from properly processing your food, and can often contribute to bloating and discomfort. Second, your body focuses on digesting instead of resting, potentially preventing you from getting the sleep your body needs.
Late night snacking can also result in excess calorie consumption. We often snack at night because we are tired or bored, not because we are truly hungry, and end up reaching for things like chips or ice cream, not things our bodies need. Listen to your body to determine if you are truly hungry.
Note: If you find yourself famished, not having eaten dinner 2 hours before bed due to scheduling issues, please do not starve yourself in order to comply with this Challenge. Try to eat easily digestible foods, and stay away from caffeine, alcohol, fatty foods, and foods high in sugar. And don’t eat too much. Also, if you need to eat a late-evening snack due to a medical condition, such as type 1 diabetes, please follow your health professional’s advice. It is also important to note that restricting oneself and focusing too much on weight can be harmful to the body, and to one’s mental health. Listen to your body, eat enough food but not too much, and don’t deprive yourself.
Basic Tips & Useful Hints
- Plan ahead. Figure out what time you’ll likely go to sleep, and work backward.
- Make sure you eat well throughout the day. Eating well-balanced meals help prevent late night cravings.
- Eat a solid dinner with plenty of protein and fiber. You’re less likely to get hungry again before bed.
- Stay hydrated! You might think you need a bedtime snack when really you’re just thirsty.
- Enjoy a cup of decaf or herbal tea before bedtime. Not only will it help take your mind off of ice cream or chips, but it can help you wind down at the end of the day.
- Rid your pantry of the items you typically nosh on for a late-night snack. (Or have your spouse or roommate hide them from you while you adjust to your new evening routine.)
- Get some sleep! A lack of sleep is associated with lower levels of leptin (the hormone that suppresses appetite) which may cause you to eat more.
- Brush and floss 2 hours before bed to prevent yourself from eating something, having it taste like toothpaste, and having to clean your teeth again.
- Distract yourself with an activity to take your mind off of your snack.
- When a craving hits, set a timer for 15 minutes. Likely it will have passed when the bell goes off.
Smart Things To Read And Watch
- 5 Tips to Curb Your Late-Night Snacking
- Late-night snacking: Is it your brain’s fault?
- Poor Sleep Gives You The Munchies, Study Says
- Eating less during late night hours may stave off some effects of sleep deprivation
Note: Foodstand is not focused on the number on the scale. Weight loss can be a byproduct of developing healthier eating habits, but if you have questions about your weight, please contact your physician.