Why You Should Never Eat in Bed
In today’s modern world, bedtime distractions run high. Whether it’s bingeing on streaming video or snacking on chips in bed while catching up on your social media accounts, many people sabotage a good night’s rest by using their bedrooms for activities other than sleep.
Creating a space devoted to good sleep hygiene is key to getting the quality rest you need to keep your mind and body running at peak efficiency. What and when you eat have a big impact on your circadian rhythms as well as your sleep quantity and quality.
Food and Circadian Rhythms
Circadian rhythms, the natural cycles stimulated by hormones that tell the body when to eat and sleep amongst other things, depend a great deal on when you eat. Meal timing either helps or hinders your body’s ability to correctly align its internal clocks. Regularly spaced, well-balanced meals help keep all your internal clocks synchronized with your brain, which controls the release of important appetite-controlling hormones. If you eat at the wrong times in the wrong amounts, you can throw off these important internal clocks.
When everything is working together, hormones are not only released at the correct time to tell you when you’re hungry or tired, but you’re better able to respond correctly to those hormone signals. Basically, when you’re hungry you eat, but when your circadian rhythms are all aligned you’re more likely to stop eating when you feel full too.
What and When
Research shows that breakfast is the optimal time for the largest meal of the day. You still want to keep things balanced with fresh vegetables, fruits, and healthy proteins. As the day moves on, your meals should progressively get smaller so that dinner is one of your lightest meals.
That last meal of the day is important not only in the amount of food you should consume but when you eat it. Eating late in the day, within one hour of bedtime, sets you up for sleep trouble that can carry over into your energy and eating habits the next day. When you’re tired and sleep deprived, you’re more likely to make poor eating choices by reaching for the high-fat foods that contribute to weight gain.
Create Your Sanctuary
Knowing the effects that food and sleep have on one another, you can start to make choices to increase your health and get better sleep. It starts by devoting your bedroom to its primary function--sleep. Your bedroom should be your sleep sanctuary. Other activities (food related or not) that you may want to avoid close to bedtime include:
Large, Heavy Meals. Fried foods, chips, and candy can all send your body the wrong signal and leave you feeling uncomfortably bloated. Eat earlier in the evening and try to keep your last meal of the day light and nutrient rich. If you find yourself hungry close to bedtime, a light snack can calm hunger pains until morning.
Screen Time. Watching TV, working on your laptop, even using an e-reader provide extra light that makes the brain believe it’s daytime. Try to turn off screens at least an hour before bedtime.
Distracted Eating. It’s easy to munch on snacks late at night while reading in bed, folding laundry, or watching TV. Before you know it, you’ve consumed extra calories that you don’t really want or need. If you eat healthily throughout the day, you can cut down on your bodies need for extra calories before bed.
Strenuous Exercise. Every healthy eating plan should include adequate exercise, but strenuous exercise should be avoided within four hours of bedtime. The rise in body temperature and release of endorphins interfere with circadian rhythms that help the body enter a resting state.