How Long to Wait After Eating to Sleep?

Sleeping immediately after eating is very common in our lives. After finishing a meal, the drowsiness kicks in and after that, we usually lie in bed and tend to take a long nap. However, this is unhealthy, and most people are told that they should always walk around and wait for some time before going to sleep. 

How Long To Wait After Eating To Sleep

Several researches recommend waiting for at least 1 hour before going to sleep after any meal in order to avoid any digestive system issues. It is better to wait 2 to 3 hours if any kind of sugary or spicy food has been eaten. If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you'd better avoid foods for 3 hours before going to bed.

It is imperative to wait for some time before sleeping in order to help your body digest the food properly. During this period, you'd better keep an upright position. These are some of the reasons why it is better to wait after having a meal before sleep.

1. Sleeping Soon After Eating Can Disturb Your Sleep

Food is considered to be very disruptive to the sleep pattern. You can wake up several times at night due to the bloated feeling after a heavy meal. Spicy and fatty foods can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as heartburn, making you hard to fall asleep.

2. Sleeping Soon After Eating Can Make Your GERD Worse

There is an orifice at the bottom of the esophagus called the sphincter, and when it fails to properly constrict, it allows stomach acids to rise, causing a condition called acid reflux. 

When you are standing or sitting, gravity can help keep the acid down. However, if you lie on the bed, stomach acid will flow unrestrictedly, worsening the symptoms. This is why it is important to wait for 3 hour before going to sleep if you already have GERD. In that way, stomach acid will decrease a lot by the time you get to sleep, so you will experience fewer symptoms.

What's more, waiting at least an hour before going to sleep helps reduce the risk of stroke by about two-thirds. This risk drops about 10% more for every extra 20 minutes that you wait.

What to Do If You Feel Hungry Before Sleep

How long to wait after eating to sleep? Now you know that you'd better wait for several hours. However, this can sometimes make you feel hungry, and hunger pang may make it hard to fall asleep. In this case, you can eat a snack that is modest in size and is filling enough. Here are some suggestions:

  • It is counterproductive to eat fatty foods like burgers and pizza; they are full with unwanted calories and are very hard to digest.
  • A good snack can be something like a whole-grain cracker with cottage cheese. This meal is perfect as a snack before sleeping since it will satisfy your hunger and can be easily digested. It is also a healthy source of carbs and protein.
  • You can also have a bowl of whole-grain cereal with some milk. Just remember to avoid sugar-filled cereals as they add more unwanted calories and increase insulin levels.

Recommendations for the Last Meal Before Sleep

You should include protein and fiber for the last meal to avoid hunger pangs during night.

1. Stir Fry

This is a simple and nutritious choice. You can use protein-rich foods such as grilled chicken, eggs, trimmed sirloin steak, tofu or fish, and remember to also include a bunch of colorful vegetables of your preference to get more vitamin A, vitamin C and fibers. Bell pepper, carrots, squash, onions, mushrooms, peas, corn, asparagus and eggplant are great choices. Mix all the ingredients and stir-fry them with olive oil until they are properly cooked. Season with low-sodium soy sauce and serve with brown rice. You will get a well-balanced diet with vitamins, fiber, and proteins.

2. Wraps

If you wonder how long to wait after eating to sleep and what to eat for the last meal, try this one. It is something very quick and easy to make. Choose a wheat tortilla to ensure a higher intake of fiber; you can mix a protein-rich sources such as chicken, turkey, eggs or lean beef with various vegetables, including spinach, arugula, mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, onions or avocado. Adding low-fat cheese can help improve the flavor. Put the ingredients on the tortilla and roll up. Enjoy!

3. Soups and Stews

Soups or stews are delicious, and they can provide lots of nutrients. You can use chicken broth, meat broth, or fish broth as a base; then add vegetables such as potatoes, garlic, onions, carrots, corn, etc. to get more vitamins and fibers. Shredded chicken, beef, fish, and shrimps or crab can help add texture and flavor. The options you have to customize this dish are limitless. 

4. Grilled Meat and Vegetables

Remember the above information about how long to wait after eating to sleep, and enjoy your last meal with something different and nutritious. Using an outside grill is an excellent option when you want some tasteful and healthy meal. Good choices include but are not limited to chicken breasts, flank steaks, trout, salmon and shrimps. You can season them with sea salt, pepper, and a little bit of olive oil. You can grill vegetables too; onions, corn, potatoes, bell pepper, eggplant, asparagus and tomatoes are delicious and nutritious choices.

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