When doing research on this specific point, I was somehow shocked. Basically, 95% of the articles I could find had a headline like “Will eating before going to bed make you fat”.
It’s crazy. People are so focused on losing weight, that they forget one of the best things to do to for their weight: sleep.
That’s why the headlines should be more like: “Will eating before bed cause bad sleep”.
Gladly I found some studies and articles, but unfortunately, as it turned out, most of them are ambiguous. A few years ago it was clear that eating before bed is bad, but in the last couple of years, some research suggests that all of this craze was a myth.
Instead of putting the focus on research completely, my advice is for you to experiment with this. I’ve had clients that had a terrible sleep after eating at night, especially sweet and carbohydrate rich foods (which most people agree on is bad for your sleep), but even quality meals had a negative impact on their sleep.
A connection that seems to be well established is that late dinners cause gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) also known as heartburn. To prevent these researchers suggest to eat dinner 4 hours before going to bed.
Knowing this will make the experimentation easier for you.
In case you are doing intermittent fasting an early dinner can help you with your eating schedule, but I know that for most people it seems to be impossible to eat 4 hours before going to bed.
What I recommend in those scenarios is to focus on foods that promote good sleep.
Some common examples include foods that are high in magnesium, like leafy greens, avocados, since magnesium appears to improve sleep.
Other things I suggest regarding your nutrition and sleep:
- Avoid junk food especially in the evening.
- Avoid caffeine 6 hours before going to bed.
- Keep your alcohol intake low. Although alcohol makes you sleep faster it usually decreases the quality of your sleep tremendously.
All in all the topic on the effects of a late dinner needs still more research. If you can have an early dinner, great. If you can’t, focus on easily digestible foods and some magnesium-rich foods.
You definitely need to experiment with this to find out if late eating decreases the quality of your sleep and if it does if there are any specific foods that are bad for your sleep.
Steps to take:
- Eat a late dinner and see how you feel afterwards.
- Do the same for an early dinner.
- Eat a salad for dinner.