Digestion plays a big part in our overall health and well being. It can even affect your sleep quality. On the other side, your sleep health can also affect your digestive health as well as your ability to lose or gain weight.
There are a lot of questions that pop up when considering how digestion and sleep affect each other. We are here to answer questions so we can all better understand how sleep and digestion relate to each other.
Do you stop digesting food when you are sleeping?
There are a number of people out there that once believed that digestion paused during sleep. However, this is not true. Our digestive system remains active while we sleep.
Which means all of our digestive juices are working diligently as we rest. Which can lead to acid reflux and heartburn. However, this does keep you rather regular overall.
As we generally have control over bowel movements and bladder control as we grow into adults, this part of digestion does go on hold typically until we wake up in the morning.
Is there a sleeping position that helps aid digestion?
So since laying down and taking a nap isn’t going to halt your digestive system, is there a way to sleep that will help encourage healthy and comfortable digestion? Why yes, there is. Due to the shape of our stomach and it’s position in our bodies, laying on your left side is the best position to lay in for healthy digestion.
This is because when you lay on your left side, your gastric juices can collect naturally and more easily stay inside of the stomach. If you were to lay on your right side, or your back, you may have trouble keeping it’s gastric juices inside the stomach.
While your body has ways of encourages and trying to keep everything where it should be, it is having to fight with gravity more than if you were to lay on your left side. Which is why laying on your back or right side can lead to more instances of acid reflux or heartburn.
Does eating late at night make you gain weight?
Calories in vs calories out is what most people generally rule as what helps you gain or lose weight. (Although many are now toting different diets like the ketogenic diet that make some different claims. But that is not what we are talking about here today)
When you are sleeping, digestion keeps working as usual and there is nothing about this process that somehow makes your calories count more than usual. It will be processed the same way at night as it would be in the morning.
However, if your choice is to either have a late night snack or head off to sleep before you get hungry again. Then skipping the late night snacking might be the better choice. We typically do not make the healthiest food choices while we are sleepy and/or bored.
Can working out help you sleep better? Find out in our post, Exercise and Sleep: Is Exercise Good For Sleep?
If you eat before bed, are you more likely to have vivid dreams?
There are a lot of rumors and dispute on this one. Partially it is difficult to say as some people can eat anything they please whenever they please and never have reports of vivid dreaming.
While others swear that the time in which they eat and what they eat greatly impact the types and intensity of dreams that they have. We suggest keeping a food & dream journal if this is something that is concerning you. Take note of the intensity of your dreams, whether it was an enjoyable dream, or a nightmare, along with what you ate at what time the previous evening.
This will help you determine what foods may or may not be affecting your dreams. Then if you are trying to intensify your dreams, calm them down, or stop nightmares. This will give you the power of knowledge for what types of foods may help you manage your dream life better.
You May Also Enjoy: Putting Nightmares To Rest
Do certain foods go bad in your stomach overnight?
Since we covered that digestion does not stop during sleep, this eliminates the possibility of food “going sour” in your stomach over night. The idea that dairy products would go bad in your stomach while you sleep is simply an old wives’ tale. Plus no food you eat is going to remain fresh by any means.
The digestive process breaks down food so your body can absorb the nutrients. This starts from your saliva and chewing in your mouth and continues after you swallow.
Which means from the moment you start eating, the food you eat has begun it’s digestion journey. Making it impossible for food to simply “spoil” in your stomach.
How can I avoid acid reflux at night?
Acid reflux is not only incredibly painful but it can also cause some rather serious health conditions if you do not treat it properly. First and foremost, monitoring your diet is a great place to start.
If you know that spicy, acidic, or fatty foods tend to upset your stomach and cause acid reflux. Then try to avoid those foods in the evenings especially. Also, be sure to not over eat. When you stuff your stomach full of food, it becomes difficult to
Can probiotics help you sleep?
There are new studies coming out that are looking into the relationship between your guts microbes and your circadian rhythm. There are many that believe your circadian rhythm (the system your body uses to regulate sleep and wake patterns) is not only influenced by light and dark, but also by the bacteria in our digestive system. If you are not already familiar, we have trillions of microbes living in our gut. Having a balance of the different types of microbes in your digest tract is vital for your health and body functions.
Probiotics can be a great help to maintain balance of healthy bacteria in your gut. Which in turn has a domino effect on your health as a whole including how your body functions, like proper sleep. If you struggle to have a healthy balance of microbes, then probiotics might be able to help you there. Which then could help you sleep better as well.
Does the amount of sleep you get affect your appetite?
Whether or not you are getting the right amount of sleep daily can absolutely change your eating habits as well as your appetite. If you have ever stayed up late, then you are probably aware of the fact that you will become hungry in the middle of the night. A time in which you would normally be snoozing away and would not find yourself waking up feeling hungry.
If you don’t get enough sleep, this can always affect your overall energy level and mood, which you may find yourself making up for with food. This is not necessarily a bad thing, you body is simply looking to find energy where it can get it. However, this can be frustrating when you’re having trouble sleeping and you’re trying to control or monitor your weight.
Sleep & Your Digestion – Final Thoughts:
Our bodies are fantastic multitaskers, allowing us to breath, digest, sleep, and dream all at the same time. Which allows us to safely and comfortably sleep after eating. However, for some eating right before bed can cause some digestive discomfort. Especially if you eat anything that your stomach is sensitive to, or if you over eat.
Which is why learning what your body is comfortable with is vital in order for you to sleep and digest comfortably. If you find you ate too close to bed, or too much food and you are experiencing digestive discomfort, try laying on your left side as this can help aid in digestion. We hope these tips are helpful in order for you to sleep well and ease digestion.
Have a question for us? Send us a message through out Contact Us page. We would be happy to help in anyway we can.