Forget going out—snuggling up in bed with takeout and Netflix is our new Saturday night jam. But if you want to enjoy a night of peaceful slumber or lose weight (and um, keep your sheets clean), then midnight munchies are totally off-limits, right? Maybe not. We break down the science of eating before bed…and it might surprise you.
Bad for Acid Reflux
Chances are that if you suffer from heartburn or acid reflux, then you’ve been told to cut out late-night snacking in order to relieve your symptoms. But does that actually make a difference? Science says yes. A study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology found that eating dinner within three hours of going to bed was associated with a sevenfold increase in reflux symptoms. Yikes.
Good for Insomnia
So here’s the rub: Chowing down on a nine-course meal right before bed is probably going to leave you tossing and turning all night. But on the other hand, going to bed with a growling tummy is also a surefire way to guarantee a bad night’s slumber. So what’s a girl to do? Snack smart, say experts. Here are the rules: eat something light, opt for carbs over protein, and stay clear of caffeine-rich foods (duh). Instead, try foods that contain tryptophan and melatonin (natural sleep boosters), like cherries and dairy, which have actually been found to promote sleep. Milk and cookies it is.
Bad for Asthma
For people with asthma, a late night snack isn’t such a good idea. That’s because eating before bed could lead to coughing and wheezing, according to research published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology. In the study, participants who ate before sleeping were found to have more gastroesophageal reflux symptoms at night and during the day. Good to know.
Good for Weight Loss (Kinda)
No matter what diet you’re on, you’ve likely been told to avoid eating before bedtime to shed pounds. And while it’s true that some studies have found a connection between post-dinner munchies and weight gain, experts say that this is likely due to the type of food consumed rather than the act of eating itself. (Admit it, you’re usually reaching for a high-calorie snack and not a salad at 10 p.m.) Stick to a healthy diet throughout the day, good-for-you evening snacks and regular exercise, and weight gain won’t be an issue. Sweet.