Midnight Snacks Good or Bad?

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   Have you ever come home late and all you crave is food?  I know this happens to me all the time.  I always love to get midnight snacks, for some reason the later I stay up the hungrier I get.  Unfortunately, this eating late may be an explanation for why I consider myself nocturnal.  According to this linked article, eating late may be the cause for you losing a night's sleep.  
   The Professor is Dean Drew Dawson.  He says, "It depends on what is in the meal and what time you eat that meal before you go to sleep".  An experiment that was done at the Centre for Sleep Research at the University of South Australia. 
   The Experiment: 
   Four people were chosen to be analyzed in the experiment.  Two people got their dinner at a normal time about three hours before going to bed for the night.  The other two people got the same exact meal but had to wait until right before they went to bed to eat it.  All four people were hooked up to a machine.  They all had an electrode on the right middle of the head.  This is what will read the signals of the brain activity.  
   The Next Morning: 
   The early eaters slept well.  However, the late eaters said they tossed and turned all night and it took them a little while to fall asleep even though they typically fall asleep quickly and deeply at night.  
   Five Stages Of Sleeping:
   1. drowsiness
   2. light sleep
   3&4. deep sleep
   5. REM (rapid eye movement)
  Deep sleep is the part of sleeping that rests and repairs the body that gets you ready for the next day.  The late eaters skipped the deep part of their sleep.  
  The scientist who evaluated their entire nights sleep, Sarah Biggs said, "They had a lot more awakenings and a lot more movement than the early eaters so they didn't actually get a lot of the deep sleep that is normally associated with the early hours of the night". 
   Dr. Clare Collins, a lecturer in nutrition at the University of Newcastle said it was very common to get reflux if eating before sleeping.  You have your digestion system fully working at a time it should be relaxed.  
  Eat a light meal before going to sleep so you are not too hungry and not too full. Nothing with caffeine or alcohol.  
  Some suggested foods by Health Central are bananas, small bowl of oatmeal or cereal, small yogurt with granola, half a bagel, crackers with peanut butter, sliced apple, a scrambled egg with toast and tea.  Most of these foods have magnesium, calcium and carbohydrates.  All of these nutrients relax the body and help your brain be at ease before falling asleep. 
   What do you eat before you go to sleep?  Do you usually eat a big meal before going to sleep or a light snack?  I know many people like to fall asleep on an empty stomach while others find it impossible to like I do.  However, now I know I can not fall asleep on a completely full stomach either.  I have to find the happy medium with little snacks like the ones I named.  Did this make you want to evaluate how you fall asleep?   

articles used: http://www.healthcentral.com/sleep-disorders/cf/slideshows/7-snacks-to-eat-before-bed-for-better-sleep/banana-with-a-small-glass-of-milk/?ic=obnetwork&ic=obnetwork 

1 Comment

I want to point out something in addition to what you have said so far, studies have shown that if you eat before bed it could not only hinder you sleep quality, but also increase your risk of obesity. It points out that the main problem is not when you eat, but HOW you eat. Therefore, one should focus more on eating properly before sleep.

So, why is there a risk of obesity? Well, the body's metabolism has a tendency to slow down during sleep. This is verified by a study by the Obesity journal, which shows that caloric intake after 8 p.m. increases one's risk of obesity.

Another study on mice from Northwestern University supports the idea that eating before sleeping increases one's chances of obesity. It went as follows: mice that were fed fatty foods during sleeping hours gained 48 percent body weight. But, rats that were fed the same amount of food during normal hours gained only 20 percent body weight.

The best solution would be to eat less before bed, as you mentioned in your blog. In this way, one can do minimize the risk. Going to bed hungry is not a recommended option, because when one goes to bed hungry, one's brain is signaling that the body needs food. In the same way, one should not go to bed stuffed. A study from Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition shows that increasing meal frequency helps "decrease hunger and improve appetite control." Therefore, one should eat to satisfaction, not until one is stuffed.

Overall, even though there are some evidence that shows that eating before bad could be unhealthy, once can still do it without hindering one's sleep or increase one's risk of obesity.


Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Journal of the International Society of Sports

Obesity Journal

Northwestern University

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