When you settle into a movie or watch your favorite team play, you might want to hold off on the snacks. It’s not so much about the extra calories but about how it could impact sleep.
Eating in the evening doesn’t help you sleep, even if it makes you feel tired. A big dinner at 8 p.m. will likely lead to tossing and turning until 4 a.m. Even a snack can hold you back from getting some good shuteye.
Your body naturally starts to prepare for sleep when the sun starts going down, whether or not you realize it. Your microbiome, hormones, and organs all enter a sleep-preparation phase so that you can enter unencumbered slumber each night.
Filling up the tank with a bunch of calories, however, sends the complete opposite signal. So, even though you may feel physically and mentally tired, the digestion and absorption of nutrients and calories turn your body back up to full blast.
Think of it this way: You’ve just filled up with gas. But unlike your vehicle, you can’t just turn it off. You’re up and running until the food has been processed.
What can you do? The first step is to try to avoid a big calorie dump within about three hours of bedtime. You can plan to eat dinner a little bit earlier, or if that isn’t an option, you can alter how you consume calories during the day.
A good strategy is to go heavy on your calories through the morning and afternoon, then light for dinner. Front-loading calories may help you get better sleep.
If you are feeling peckish in the evening, it’s best to turn to nutritious and easily digestible options. Things like carrot sticks, fruit, or even a little bit of air-popped popcorn are good options.
Sleep trouble can be caused by a variety of factors, and food timing is certainly one of them. Try minding your meal times during the day for better sleep at night.
Mat Lecompte is a freelance health and wellness journalist. This article was first published on Bel Marra Health.