By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern
Have you ever wondered why they put a light on the inside of your refrigerator? It’s there for whenever you decide to have a midnight snack of course! Only kidding. But on the topic of midnight snacks and eating before bed in general, is it okay to eat that late at night, or does it have some negative health effects? Let’s take a look at whether or not a late-night raid of the refrigerator is acceptable, or if it should be avoided.
First, let’s look at some of the pros of eating before bed. One pro is that eating before bed can help you sleep better if you haven’t eaten much during the day. If you go to bed hungry, you’ll likely be tossing and turning because your body is in need of nutrition. According to an article published in Live Science, another benefit to eating before bed is that there are certain foods that induce the production of sleep hormones and promote a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Foods like turkey, dairy products, oats, and omega-3 containing fatty fish are just a few of those foods.
But there are also cons to eating before bed. One of these cons is that it could lead to weight gain. According to registered dietician Dr. Melissa Prest, our metabolisms slow about 10 – 15% while sleeping, so while we are burning calories to maintain our body’s function, we aren’t really burning any extra calories. According to sleep expert Dr. Lindsay Browning, another con is that it can disrupt our body’s natural circadian rhythm, which regulates when our bodies produce digestive enzymes. As it nears bedtime, our bodies don’t produce these enzymes because it thinks that we are about to sleep. But when you eat, it makes your body think that you are awake, thus you may have trouble sleeping at night.
Overall, this is a fairly controversial issue. Nutritionist Signe Svanfeldt says that it is ultimately dependent on our individual lifestyle and dietary needs as to whether or not we should be eating close to bedtime. With that being said, evaluate yourself to see how eating before bed makes you feel and adjust accordingly.
For more sleep articles, check out this list of articles from Fill Your Plate!