How Long Should You Wait Between Eating and Sleeping? - Public Goods

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How Long Should You Wait Between Eating and Sleeping?

I’m almost always thinking about food. two bowls of pasta, a wine glass with red wine, cork

What am I going to eat? When am I going to eat? Where am I going to eat?

I would say I spend a solid third of my day thinking about these things. Food is an integral part of weight loss, and if you’ve read any of my other articles, you would know I’m kind of all about weight loss.

One piece of advice I read a long time ago, probably on the internet, is that you should wait a minimum of two hours after a meal before lying down. I can’t exactly remember why, but I have been treating that suggestion as an unbreakable rule, scheduling my naps and bedtimes around my meals.

It wasn’t until recently when I told my personal trainer, who has an ACE national certification in personal training, this tidbit that I started to question it. He said it wasn’t a rule at all. In fact, he said, you can hit the sack as soon as you eat a snack!

Who’s right? It seems like there is a lot of conflicting information and advice out there.

According to New Health Advisor, I was right all along. Here’s a statement from the site:

“No matter how healthy your diet is, you will end up gaining weight and getting certain digestive system problems if you don’t stop lying down after meals.”

You should wait at least two hours after eating to lie down, because food is best digested in an upright position. If you lie down right after a meal, this behavior will lead to indigestion. If done habitually, you could develop gastro-esophogeal reflux disease (GERD), which is when the lower esophagus does not close off properly after you’ve eaten.

Brandon Peters, MD, board-certified neurologist and sleep specialist, added that lying down shortly after eating can cause you to experience insomnia and nightly heartburn. He advises waiting two to three hours after your last meal to go to bed, as the delay will allow the food to enter the small intestine.

The timing of your meals can affect your sleep because food can prompt the release of insulin. This chemical can shift your circadian rhythm, your internal clock that is constantly running in the background of your brain and that cycles between fatigue and alertness at regular intervals.

Certain foods, like spicy and acidic substances, can exacerbate reflux symptoms if you lie down after eating them. Karen McCarthy at suggested you avoid these foods if acid reflux is a problem for you.

Before bed, you should focus on foods that are easy to digest and promote sleepiness, including spinach, halibut and egg whites. All of these staples are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that aids in the production of melatonin and serotonin.

Beverages and foods such as tea, chocolate and soda should be avoided before bed, especially if they contain fatigue-abating caffeine.

Your schedule may not be conducive to watching a whole Martin Scorsese movie between dinner and bedtime, but your digestive health will thank you for it. If you’re on a time crunch, and you absolutely have to eat, choose light foods that won’t take as long to digest. Sleep on a few more pillows to give you more of an incline so the digestive juices will flow downward.

Eating and sleeping are a couple of the best parts of the day, so take your time with them. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but dinner may just be giving it a run for its money. Now that’s some food for thought!

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