According to nutritionists and health experts, eating a meal too close to bedtime may harm your sleep and health. It's because of indigestion, heartburn, and continuous reflux. You are probably asking this question: how long should I wait to lay down after eating?
Nutritionists recommend that you wait at least two hours after a meal before going to bed. This gives the body enough time to digest the food and avoid gastroesophageal reflux disease and other stomach problems in the long run. You'll also have a sound and comfy sleep.
Eating before bed and how long you should wait to sleep after eating is a hot topic and controversial topic among many people. The majority believe that eating well before bed promotes better sleep, while others argue it is an unhealthy practice. Read on as we break down the question, "how long should I wait to lay down after eating?"
Why Follow The Recommended Laying Down Timing After Eating?
It is normal to feel tired or sleepy after completing a meal (Postprandial Somnolence or a food coma). However, experts do not recommend going to sleep immediately. Lay down for at least two to three hours. Below is why waiting for 2-3 hours is the right thing.
Allows Enough Time For Digestion
The top reason nutritionists recommend laying down timing after eating is to allow enough time for digestion. The two to three hours allow the contents of your stomach to move to your small intestine for chemical digestion before you go to bed.
Promoting Better Sleep
Eating prompts the release of insulin. This hormone helps your body use the food ingested to create energy. The insulin release and conversion of food to energy can shift your circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle). It is also worth mentioning that food can signal wakefulness in the brain, which interferes with your ability to enjoy quality sleep. Therefore, waiting two to three hours allows the above process to complete so you can enjoy better sleep.
Prevents Stomach Issues
Waiting the recommended time before going to sleep or laying down any time of the day after meals will help prevent common stomach problems like cramps, nighttime heartburn, discomfort, and abdominal pains. These issues can impact your sleep quality and overall health.
Is It Bad To Eat And Lay Down?
The answer is a resounding yes! Laying down immediately after eating is bad. It can negatively impact your health and well-being. Below are some health and physical dangers of sleeping directly after eating. (GERD)
This is a chronic condition where stomach contents and acid rise into the esophagus. It occurs due to the lower esophagus being unable to close off correctly after you have had a meal. This condition causes symptoms like heartburn, bad breath, chest pain, breathing difficulties, and an acidic taste in the back of the mouth. Going to bed immediately after eating stimulates the stomach acid, increasing the risk of developing gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Indigestion refers to abdominal discomfort in the upper abdominal area. It is more of a symptom instead of a disease. Indigestion can occur as a feeling of fullness soon after beginning a meal, discomfort after eating, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, nausea, and abdominal pain. Laying down immediately after eating can cause indigestion. This is because of the acidic rise in the stomach. Additionally, the body absorbs food properly when you are upright. Therefore, laying down increases the time and energy required for food to absorb in the body.
Causes Stomach Cramps and Aches
Not waiting for at least two hours after meals slows down your digestive system. This can result in several health complications, like stomach cramps and aches. Eating causes heaviness in the stomach. When you lay down, the heaviness results in stomach cramps and aches. It may also cause bloating when you finally wake up.
Cause Physical Fatigue After Waking Up
Laying down immediately after eating also slows down your metabolism. Naturally, the body's metabolic rate drops at night. However, eating directly before sleeping slows it down even more. This may cause you to wake up feeling extra tired.
Night Time Heartburn
Another negative impact of immediate after-meal sleeping is that it causes nighttime heartburn. It occurs as a symptom of heaviness in the stomach. With the stomach positioned in a lying position, it stimulates acid secretion. The acid rises in the esophagus, causing heartburn.
Disturbs Your Sleep Cycle
Humans naturally get tired and sleepy after consuming a heavy meal. It happens when you consume carbohydrate and protein-rich foods. These two increase the amount of serotonin in your body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and sleep patterns. Therefore, an increase in serotonin can cause you to feel tired and sleepy. However, as much as you may feel drowsy, a heavy stomach will keep you from falling asleep. It will also make sleeping through the night difficult due to the related stomach problems. All this disturbs your sleep cycle.
How Long Should I Wait To Lay Down After Eating? FAQs
Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about laying down after meals;
How Long After I Eat Can I Lay Down?
Nutritionists and health experts recommend waiting at least two to three hours after eating before lying down. The two to three hours give the digestive system enough time to work. Digestion happens faster when you are upright as opposed to lying down. Additionally, sleeping after eating makes it easier for your stomach acid to move back up your esophagus. This can result in issues like nighttime heartburn, bloating, abdominal pain, stomach aches, and crumps.
Furthermore, sleeping after a heavy meal may cause you to wake up feeling bloated and tired. Therefore, waiting a couple of hours gives your body adequate time to absorb food and relieve the heaviness in your stomach before going to sleep. This will improve your sleep quality and comfort throughout the night. It will also prevent health issues like the development of gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Can I Lay Down 30 Minutes After Eating?
Thirty minutes is not the recommended amount of time to wait before you sleep after completing a meal. It does not give the body enough time to absorb and start digesting food. It is worth mentioning that digestion happens fast when the stomach's contents move into the small intestine effortlessly.
In a nutshell, you should not lay down 30 minutes after a meal because:
- Thirty minutes is not enough time for the body to absorb food.
- It does not provide enough time to digest the food and prevent issues like stomach upset, indigestion, and heartburn during the nighttime.
Many people will choose to sleep after a meal because of fatigue and drowsiness. Eating a heavy meal, especially one rich in proteins and carbohydrates, causes you to feel tired and sleepy. However, experts do not recommend sleeping immediately after a meal, as tempting as it may be. Nutritionists recommend waiting two to three hours so the body can absorb and digest the food before sleeping.
Waiting the recommended time can prevent stomach issues like indigestion, cramps, aches, acid reflux, and heartburn. It can also help improve your sleep cycle. Make sure you maintain an upright position as you wait the recommended time before laying down to sleep. Staying upright also speeds up the digestion process. Laying down makes it easier for stomach contents and acid to rise in the esophagus.
Feruza is a mom and a blogger. She had a neck pain for 15 years, which made her interested in everything about pillows.
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