One of the most common ‘rules’ you hear when it comes to losing weight – or maintaining it – is “do not eat after x o’clock.” Sure, there is definitely some truth behind this. After all, eating a large meal before bed can lead to an uncomfortable feeling, acid reflux and digestive issues. But what if you’re regularly hungry before bed? Going to bed when you’re hungry is not exactly a recipe for a good night sleep. So should you eat something or not?
3 questions to ask yourself if you’re often hungry before bed
Below, we’ve listed three questions you should ask yourself if you’re often hungry before bed:
#1. What does your breakfast look like?
While many people have a tendency to skip it, breakfast can really set the tone for the rest of your day. Indeed, it is the most important meal of the day. After all, breakfast is what activates your digestive system. If you wait (too) long before having your first meal, chances are you’re hungrier later on – which can also result in you getting hungry before bed. Are you not used to having breakfast? Or do you find it difficult to get something in your stomach that early in the day? Try experimenting with having a bowl of yogurt, a banana or a smoothie for breakfast, and see how you feel afterwards.
#2. What do you eat in the course of the day?
When you notice that you’re often getting hungry before bed, this can simply be because your body is trying to tell you that it didn’t get enough nutrients or energy that day. This is most likely the case when you’re skipping meals or are not eating enough. At any given day, you need at least three complete meals. A complete meal means that it needs to contain a combination of the three macro nutrients: carbohydrates (including fibres), proteins and healthy fats. Aside from that, you can make these meals as simple or complicated as you wish. Depending on what your day looks like (or how much energy you need) you can add some snacks between those meals.
#3. Are you actually hungry, or just craving something specific?
Have you gone through the first two questions and determined that despite the fact that there is nothing wrong with your eating habits, you still regularly experience hunger before bedtime? Then ask yourself this: Am I really hungry or am I just craving something? Personally, I can get through a whole day without any cravings, but I always crave chocolate after dinner – and I don’t think I’m the only one! In this case, it’s better to just give in to your craving and have that piece of chocolate, instead of trying to eat something else that will not remove that craving for chocolate anyway. I know we should enjoy chocolate while we still can, so yes, I have a little piece every day (sometimes a big one). On the other hand, you could actually be hungry. Maybe you have been more active than usual that day, meaning you burned more calories and therefore need to eat a bit more. You should also consider the possibility that you’re in the so-called luteal phase of your menstrual cycle. During this phase, which occurs in the days before your period starts, your body burns more calories than it usually would – yes, even when you’re not active. This is why many women do not only experience pms symptoms before they start shark week, but also a need for more food and more sleep. In that case, it is perfectly fine to have something to eat, as long as you give your body at least an hour (preferably two) to digest it before hitting the hay.
If you’re often hungry before bed, this usually means you’re either not eating enough during the day, or you’re not eating complete meals and missing out on important nutrients. Or you’re just craving something (and it’s totally okay to give in to that – with control, of course). That said, you should never go to bed hungry – you’ll only end up waking up cranky.