We’ve all been there a time or two…hundred. Dinner has come and gone, your favorite show has been watched, a nightcap has been enjoyed, teeth have been brushed, pajamas adorned and your body excitedly immerses itself between soft, beautiful threads of cotton for a glorious slumber. But before your head has the chance to nestle comfortably into a feathery pillow, it strikes: the dreaded late-night hunger pang. Now comes decision time – do you ignore that growling in your stomach and try to sleep away the hunger to avoid consuming more calories, or do you satiate the call of biology and indulge in a little midnight nosh?
For those who are watching their weight or are trying to stay fit, the answer is probably the former. After all, those extra calories could negate all your hard work. On the other hand, not satisfying this small desire to nibble the night before could cause you to wake up ravenous the next day and seek out the biggest, greasiest breakfast burrito you can find. Of course, it’s also not good to stuff your face right before bed either. While the question of whether to go to bed hungry or not has no steadfast answer, nutritionists Willow Jarosh and Stephanie Clarke are trying to illuminate the best avenue for people to take when late-night hunger rears its head.
Turns out, it all boils down to your own health and fitness goals, as well as your personal habits. The thing about eating at night is that it will not cause you to gain weight, provided you don’t exceed your daily caloric intake and needs. So, nourishing your body before bed with a healthy snack like nuts, yogurt or fruit is perfectly acceptable so you can go to bed relatively satisfied and secure that you won’t wake up bloated or heavier. However, diving spoon first into a Ben & Jerry’s carton is probably not the way to go to keep off additional pounds. Binge eating is also a no-no, as this can cause discomfort and indigestion, which can actually deter sleep more than hunger. Still, going to bed hungry for the sake of not consuming more food also isn’t wise – intense hunger pangs can disrupt sleep and lead to aforementioned binging.
The bottom line: do what feels right for you and your body so you can feel good about your health goals and get a great night sleep. Of course, to avoid this dilemma all together, it might behoove you to eat a more balanced dinner that includes carbohydrates rich in fiber, protein and bit of healthy fat in order to keep you satisfied until sunrise. But hey, eating a cookie right before bed to satisfy hunger and a sweet tooth isn’t going to kill you or make you balloon. If you can’t control your cravings, it might be best to sleep through it. But if you know what it’ll take to rid yourself of hunger before bed in a way that won’t reap consequences, then bon a petit.