The Sleep Advisors

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Last Updated on August 3, 2022 by Peter

Why Should Going To Bed Hungry Be Part Of Your Evening Routine?

There is a lot of contradictory information related to this topic. While some people advise you not to eat in the evening, others believe that dinner is the most important meal. Let’s debunk all the myths together.

You can often hear the phrase “You are what you eat” and we completely agree with that. You cannot expect to be healthy if you eat junk food every day.

Of course, nothing terrible will happen if you have a few cheat meals per week, but the biggest part of your menu should be healthy foods. These days it is no longer enough to just choose meat and vegetables, for example, you should take care of whether the food is organic, free range and so on.

What you eat is paramount, but timing is also important and should not be neglected. Not every time of day is suitable for every type of food. When we talk about meals, most debates are related dinner. Everyone agrees that breakfast should not be skipped and that lunch is indispensable.

But what should you do with the dinner? Let’s find out together why going to bed hungry should be part of your evening routine.

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    What do you get from going to bed hungry?

    To begin with, we will focus on what do you get from going to bed hungry. Everything has its positive and negative sides, and this topic is no different. You will notice some positive improvements, but probably also some things you would like to avoid. After reading this part of the article you may think that you should always eat before going to bed, but things are not black and white.

    An image of a man drinking a glass of water in his bed before the bed time.

    Less calories

    This is a logical sequence of events. If you miss one meal, in this case dinner, your daily calorie intake will be lower. If you are trying to lose some weight, it is a great way. Especially if you plan to lose 10 or more kilograms, so you need to kick-start the whole process.

    (Possibly) Not enough sleep

    There are times when even after you eat dinner, you may still feel hungry. This happens when you are very tired and then the hormones ghrelin and leptin are secreted. To cut a long story short, both hormones are to blame for food cravings and binge eating. The symptoms will be even more pronounced if you do not eat before going to bed. That is why it is important to achieve a daily balance of sleep and food.

    An image of a sleepy woman holding a pillow.


    You don’t have to worry about malnutrition if you meet the daily goal of calories and macronutrients during the day. Autophagy is the concept for which Yoshinori Ohsumi won the Nobel Prize. In order to trigger autophagy, you only eat for a few hours during the day, but you will not face malnutrition because you have two great meals. That diet is known as intermittent fasting. But if you have nutritionally poor meals during the day, then skipping dinner is detrimental.

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    Being cranky & moody

    There is not a single person in the world who likes feeling hungry. When we are hungry, we are usually very moody, even sometimes angry. That’s why you’ll probably notice that you’re cranky for the first few days when you go to bed hungry. Try to endure this period, because it will become easier over time.

    An image of A man suffering from less creativity and bad mood due to lack of sleep.

    Less energy

    Most of us love a good cup of coffee. Or tea. But, if you want to doze off as soon as you touch the pillow – it might be better if you take a break from caffeine. Or limit its intake, at the very least. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it gives us energy and makes us more alert. This is great when we need to be productive during the day or when we’re trying to catch a coffee nap buzz, but not so much when we’re actually trying to sleep.

    an image of a man being tired at the work

    If you’re struggling to hit the snooze at night, try to avoid caffeine altogether – or have your last cup at least 6 hours before you go to bed. This should give the caffeine enough time to wear off and won’t disrupt your sleep.

    What should you eat before bed time?

    We can’t emphasize enough how important is the choice of foods that you will eat before going to bed. It is of utmost importance to skip junk food and go with other types of food. Food rich in tryptophan and whole grains are among the best choices you can make.

    Food rich in tryptophan

    Tryptophan is an amino acid essential for so many different functions in our body from the day we are born. Without tryptophan infants would not grow normally. It is also equally important for adults because it is involved in the production of muscles and neurotransmitters. Tryptophan belongs to the group of essential amino acids, which means that the body cannot produce it, but it is necessary to get it from the diet.

    An image of food rich in tryptophan.

    Chicken, fish, eggs and nuts are some of the foods that contain the most tryptophan and are therefore an excellent choice for an evening meal. Avoid fried chicken and similar unhealthy options. This amino acid is sensitive on temperatures above 150 degrees C.

    Whole grains

    There is a big difference between complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates have a high glycemic index, which means that they break down quickly in the stomach and suddenly raise the blood sugar level. They are useful in moments when we need a sudden boost of energy, but our diet should not be based on simple carbohydrates.

    An image of whole grains in shape of heart.

    On the other hand, complex carbohydrates are an excellent choice for dinner. They will keep us full all night because they are digested slowly and there is no spike of sugar in our blood. Whole grains such as cereals and whole wheat pasta and rice are complex carbohydrates.

    What should you not eat before bed time?

    We have known for decades what types of food you should absolutely avoid before bed, and in general. Such food will cause stomach problems, nightmares and poor night’s sleep. If you like to eat this kind of food from time to time, you should do it for lunch, not in the evening. Then you give the body much more time to process the food.

    Fried food

    Fried food is probably the unhealthiest type of food. It contains so many calories and trans fats. It completely changes the nutritional value of food. For example, potatoes are very healthy, but when they are fried, they are no longer healthy.
    Trans fats are very dangerous for the cardiovascular system. Of course, you can occasionally indulge in fried food, but you should definitely not do it often and at the wrong time.

    An image of fried French fries.

    Spicy food

    Spicy food is not unhealthy per se, it is even considered healthy. The problem is when the food you eat in the evening is hot. The first thing that will happen is that your body temperature will rise and you won’t be ready to sleep.

    An image of red pepper spice.

    After that digestive problems come. First you will feel heartburn, and then you may experience diarrhea and other similar things. That’s why you should eat Mexican, Indian and Chinese cuisines during the day, and Mediterranean food is better in the evening.

    Greasy food

    It is wrong to equate fried and greasy food. They certainly have similar characteristics, for example, too many trans fats. The pizza is greasy, but not fried. There are so many more such examples. The bottom line is that you will experience bloating and stomach pain, and in the long term obesity, heart disease and diabetes are possible. Brain function will be impaired because of the too many fat, salt and sugar. People with sensitive skin may expect acne to appear or worsen.

    Food rich in sugar

    We have already mentioned the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates. It is easy to avoid sweets, but it can happen that you ingest a large amount of sugar without even realizing it. Most of the things on the local supermarket shelf are full of glucose fructose syrup, one of the most harmful substances. Also, hot chocolate, tea and other drinks may contain too much sugar leading to nighttime hunger. Instead go with healthy snacks and nutritious food.

    How to avoid going to bed hungry?

    You want to avoid weight gain or to accelerate weight loss, so you have decided to change your eating habits by promoting a healthy metabolism. Although it is great to lower your body mass index if it is above 25, at the same time you should avoid nighttime hunger and have full night’s rest.

    Know your total caloric intake

    Although caloric intake is not a perfect indicator of whether you have eaten enough food during the day, it can certainly show whether you are malnourished. An adult needs at least 1700 kcal per day, because this is the average basal metabolism. This means that your body spends so many kcal even if you haven’t moved all day. And since that is never the case, then you need even more than that.

    an image of a young woman eating healthy food to remember dreams

    Have more small meals during the day

    The best way to not experience hunger pains is to have more small meals during the day. That way, you will always be full, and your body will have the necessary source of energy. Also, the stomach finds it much easier to digest small meals than huge ones.

    Follow a balanced & healthy diet

    An empty stomach is not the best way to lose weight. Well balanced diet and meal timing are way more effective. Healthy fats and proteins for breakfast, followed by proteins and carbohydrates for lunch – you will be full of energy and fit. When you follow a regular meal schedule, you won’t need a bedtime snack.

    an image of food that is rich in magnesium

    Eat more protein for dinner

    If you want to be sure that inadequate sleep is not what awaits you the following night, don’t sleep hungry, at least not totally hungry. You will fall asleep easier when dinner is based on proteins. That’s why lean meat or fish is the best choice.

    Avoid unhealthy & junk food at all cost

    Eating late is not recommended. And when your last meal of the day is made of junk food, then the situation is even worse. That’s why you have to avoid unhealthy and junk food at all costs.

    An image of a man eating hamburger.


    Sleep enthusiast & researcher Sleep is a crucial for a healthy life, in every sense. TSA gave me the place to express my feelings and opinions about the state we spend one third of our lives. In free time - a huge fan of dreams and lucid dreaming. Even started making own dream map
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