Why can’t I sleep after a late dinner?
Late dinners, long family gatherings with great treats, or those snacks before bed, whatever it is, you feel tired and ready to go to sleep afterwards. But do you really sleep well after a dinner just before bedtime?
Some experts will tell you that it’s normal to feel sleepy after eating.
We are going to warn you that a big meal, especially with lots of carbs before bed will disrupt your sleep. And the reason for that is the unique relationship between food, sleep and your metabolism.
For starters, dozing off right after a large meal will lead to digestive issues. That’s because an upright position — whether sitting or standing — is better for digestion in general.
The way we metabolize food varies at different times during a roughly 24-hour cycle, and mostly it slows down the closer you get to your bedtime.
Sleeping after eating also lowers your arousal threshold (making it more likely that something wakes you), increasing sleep fragmentation (causing you to wake up during the night). This will affect your sleep quality and depth.
Although large late-night meals tend to be problematic for the reasons above, it is important to note that also the foods have an impact on your sleep.
Foods that are high in glucose and carbs, will put you straight into the glucose rollercoaster, making you feel wide awake because the energy kicks in, but you don’t need it any more.
Plus, that little glass of wine you enjoy with dinner may also affect to your sleep quality.
A consequence of poor sleep is also that you have increased glucose levels the next day and can observe stronger fluctuations. This in turn can cause you to experience cravings and you end up on the glucose roller coaster again. So not only are you tired and unfocused, but you’re hungrier too. (Have you ever observed that if you eat dinner late, you’er hungrier then usual the next morning?)
So what should you do for better sleep?
A balanced diet of vegetables and fruits (the latter during the earlier hours of the day), whole grains, nuts, and lean proteins is said to help with getting a higher quality sleep. A recent literature review in June 2022 shows that a healthy diet is associated with better perceived sleep quality.
Also we recommend that you wait at least 2-3 hours before you go to bed after a meal.
Learn more about what works for you in our new Hello Sugar Program. 14 days to explore your personal reaction to food, exercise and stress. Find your sweet spot!