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Most of us love to enjoy our afternoon siesta post lunch, or we love to relish late night snacking before retiring for the day. You may often wonder whether it is okay to snooze after you eat. There is no doubt that we often feel drowsy after having our meals but does that mean we should catch up on some sleep or should we actually wait for some time before dozing off? Well, it may not be a good idea to doze off after eating your meals. Sleeping immediately after eating food may not be good for your body.
Why We Usually Feel Sleepy After Eating
As soon as you finish eating your meal, your brain signals the organs to start digesting the food. The blood circulation becomes more concentrated around the digestive system. The shift in the intensity of blood supply affects the brain too. This blood deprivation to the brain may make you feel drowsy or sleepy.
How Does Sleeping Immediately After Eating Affect Your Health?
Your body is ideally required to digest the food you consume to obtain energy, and it can do so if you sit in an upright position. However, when you nap after eating, you are not allowing your body to perform this function, thus leading to some of the following:
1. It May Lead to Weight Gain
Immediately sleeping after eating can cause weight gain. This is because your body needs to burn the calories that you consumed from a meal, but instead, you sleep, which means your body will store these calories. An excess amount of calories in the body lead to weight gain. In short, sleeping after eating makes you fat.
2. It May Cause Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is a condition when the contents of your stomach are pushed back into your oesophagus. Acid reflux causes a burning sensation in your chest cavity. This happens when you sleep soon after eating your food.
3. It May Cause Digestive Issues
If you sleep right after eating lunch or post-dinner, your food does not get digested properly. Undigested food can cause digestive issues like gas, heartburn, acidity, flatulence, bloating, etc.
4. It May Lead to Stroke
Sleeping immediately post having a meal can increase your chances of suffering a stroke. This is because undigested food may cause an imbalance in your blood sugar levels and blood pressure, and in extreme cases, it may lead to stroke too.
How Long Should You Wait to Go to Sleep After Having Food?
It is recommended that you should let your body digest the food that you ate before you hit the snooze button. Though different food items may take different amounts of time to get digested, it is good to wait for at least 2 to 4 hours to nap after you have had your meals.
Bedtime Snacks That Are Healthy for You
Though it is not a good idea to munch on anything right before your bedtime, sometimes, sudden hunger pangs may strike, and we may want to eat something. We suggest that you eat something healthy and nutritious, instead of piling on useless calories. Here are some healthy recommendations that you can use to curb that late night snacking needs:
- A glass of warm milk with honey is a healthy option, and you will sleep well too.
- A cup of low-fat yoghurt is easy on your tummy as well.
- A whole-wheat cracker with some peanut butter is ideal to put that growling stomach to rest.
- A cup of whole grain cereal with low-fat milk.
If hunger strikers at an odd hour, these are some snacks that you can gobble down without even thinking twice. Avoid fatty, fried or calorie-dense foods as they can not only be hard on your digestive system, but they may cause trouble with sleeping too.
Does Eating Too Late Affect Your Sleep?
Food and sleep have a very complex, yet interesting relationship. Some foods can induce intense sleep and make you sleep like a baby. Then there are foods like chocolate, energy drinks, soda, etc. which can keep us wide awake if consumed before dozing off. Therefore, we really have to be cautious about what we eat close to bedtime because it can directly impact our sleep. Also, if you consume your meal right before sleeping, there is a good possibility that you may suffer from a bout of acidity or heartburn, which will impact how well you sleep.
There are people who may not feel affected at all by what they consume close to bedtime, but that certainly does not mean that they should eat whatever they want because their sleep isn’t getting disrupted. Well, the question is not of sleep, but it’s about the food that is not getting digested. Hence, sleeping after every meal or lying down after eating is not at all recommended.
It is important that you leave a considerable gap between your meal time and nap time. Eating a healthy and nutritious meal before bedtime, avoiding unhealthy foods and opting for right late night snacks are some of the good things you can do for good sleep and good health. However, if you experience any heartburn, acid reflux or any sleep-related issue, we suggest that you see your doctor and get examined right away to rule out any medical condition.