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What is the best time to eat before you sleep?  

What is the best time to eat before you sleep?  

Sleeping immediately after eating is detrimental to health. Eating early is best to avoid issues such as heartburn and indigestion, say experts

The best time to eat before you sleep is around two to three hours before going to bed

Did you know that the type of food you eat for dinner can also affect your sleep? Along with the food consumed, the timing of the food is crucial, too. Experts reveal that having late meals leads to indigestion, acid reflux, heartburn and metabolic syndromes. Hence, it is important to identify the best time to eat dinner to remain healthy and sleep better.

What’s the best time to eat dinner?

Dinner is the last meal of the day, and it is important to have light and easy-to-digest food, which does not affect sleep quality. Having a late dinner can lower the quality of sleep and leave you feeling irritated the next morning. Having this meal three hours before bedtime is beneficial, suggest experts.

“It is best to eat dinner between 6 pm and 7 pm. This leads to a longer fasting period between dinner and breakfast, which has a positive impact on blood sugar, insulin sensitivity and blood pressure. It’s also beneficial in balancing the lipid levels,” says Vani Krishna, chief nutritionist, Manipal Hospital, Bengaluru. She adds, “For obese or overweight individuals trying to lose weight, longer fasting periods can help. The body is at rest for a greater duration, which will cause insulin levels to drop.” At night, since insulin secretion is slow, it will help with better blood glucose control and help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.   

Why should we have dinner early?

The hormones and secretions needed for digestion are produced in higher amounts during the day. Insulin, produced by the pancreas, promotes the uptake of glucose by the cells in the body. “Insulin is produced throughout the day, but secretions slowly reduce over the day, resulting in higher blood glucose levels,” explains Krishna.

As a result, eating dinner later at night leads to increased glucose levels in the blood as there isn’t enough insulin to promote the absorption of glucose into the body.

What happens if you sleep immediately after dinner?

Hunger is controlled by two main hormones — the hunger-promoting ghrelin and the appetite-regulating leptin. Thus, it’s best to eat dinner early as delaying the meal can cause increased production of ghrelin, which increases the appetite further and can cause binge-eating and increase the risk of obesity.

Moreover, sleeping immediately after having food can be quite detrimental. “In the evening, the digestive secretions reduce, which slows down the absorption of the food. Eating late and sleeping soon can lead to bloating, acid reflux and heartburn,” highlights Pitchiah Kasinathan, clinical dietitian, Fortis Malar Hospital, Chennai.  Other possible side effects include poor and delayed indigestion symptoms, steady weight gain and disrupted sleep patterns.

Read more:

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What foods can help you sleep better?

Foods to avoid before going to sleep

Heavy meals, citrus fruits and sugary drinks are tough on the digestive system. Besides causing disturbed sleep, such meals can cause heartburn,  making it difficult to lie down and relax, says Dr Priyanka Rohatgi, chief clinical dietician, Apollo Hospitals, Bengaluru.

Here are some foods that are best avoided for dinner:

Caffeinated drinks: Caffeine present in tea, coffee or energy drinks makes us alert, disrupting the sleep cycle. Experts suggest avoiding caffeinated products after 6 pm.

Spicy food: Spicy food causes heartburn, acid reflux, and indigestion. The reflux of the acidic contents into the esophagus (food pipe) causes discomfort and sleep disturbance.

High-fat food: This can burden the digestive system when you are in bed and increase flatulence, resulting in discomfort.

Protein-rich food: Such food takes longer to digest, leading to disrupted sleep.

Excessive water: A major drawback of drinking surplus water or fluids before bed is excess urination, which disrupts sleep.

Nicotine and alcohol: Nicotine makes the body alert, while alcohol can disrupt the sleep cycle by causing fragmented sleep and frequent urination.


  • The best time to eat dinner is two to three hours before going to sleep. This helps avoid indigestion and acid reflux while promoting better sleep by preventing sleep disturbances.
  • Foods like cherries, milk, nuts and lean meat promote the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.
  • Avoid eating spicy, high-protein or fat-rich food for dinner as they are difficult to digest and increase the chances of acid reflux.

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