Physical FitnessHeavy meal at night - effects on sleep and more
[+2] [2] Randy Minder
[2011-05-31 11:32:34]
[ nutrition fitness sleep ]

I will sometimes have a somewhat heavy meal at night, between 7pm and 7:30pm. I then sometimes don't have a very good sleep, and often wake up feeling a little anxious and odd. Does anyone have information, or experience, with eating like this?

(1) What do your meals comprise of? Because 'a somewhat heavy meal' is a bit too general to give any advice on. Furthermore, what do you do the rest of the evening? - Ivo Flipse
The type of food you eat can play a big role in this--even more than the quantity. Since some carbs can take up to 12 hours to process, giving your body a rush of energy afterwards, it might be due to what you ate at lunch. Of course, if you consume alcohol at night, that only takes 6-7 hours to process, and that can also contribute to your problems. Help us help you by giving an average day of food when you have those heavy meals at night. - Berin Loritsch
[+2] [2011-07-14 04:58:14] BradH

The question is a bit vague but I will give some of my experience on the matter.

I generally only eat 2 meals per day and my evening (post-workout) dinner is usually very heavy. However, it's always a low-carb meal. Also, I take a probiotic and consume lots of fermented vegetables which also aid in digestion. Additionally, my animal protein is generally eaten raw, undercooked or preserved to keep enzymatic activity high which helps as well. Lots of carbohydrates, heavily cooked meats, and undercooked vegetables will be difficult for your body to digest not to mention rob your body of minerals and nutrients.

Personally, I don't think it matters how heavy your meal is at that time of day. Even if you were to go to sleep right afterward, your body should have an easy time digesting provided you're supplying it with plenty of probiotics and enzymes. Herschel Walker ate one meal a day and went to sleep right afterward and he's considered the greatest running back in the history of college football. Also, Army Rangers only get 1 meal per day while training.

Just remember that your body will adapt to pretty much any situation you get into but you have to give it the necessary tools to adapt appropriately.

Your description of feeling "anxious and odd" is unclear but I suspect it has to do with poor digestion either because of difficult to digest foods, lack of digestion supporting nutrients, or some combination thereof.

[0] [2011-08-10 18:38:57] Steeven

First of all you should stay away from specific kinds of food and ingrediences like caffeine and sugar containing food and alkohol etc. Apart from this, a very heavy meal just before sleeping will speed up the digestion which can cause some interference in the night sleep.

My source is Danish:

• Vær hverken sulten eller overmæt, når du går i seng.
Er du sulten, så spis et stykke frugt. Er du tørstig, så drik et glas mælk eller juice. Et stort måltid kort før du går i seng er forbudt – fordøjelsen vil forstyrre din nattesøvn.

Årsager til mareridt:
[...] - Spisning lige inden man går i seng, hvilket forøger kroppens metabolisme (de kemiske og fysiske processor) og hjerneaktivitet

But roughly translated into this:

• Don't be hungry nor satiated, when going to bed. Are you hungry then eat a piece of fruit. Are you thirsty then drink a glass of milk or juice. A big meal shortly before going to bed is forbidden - digestion vil interfere with your night sleep.

Couses of nightmare:
[...] - Eating just before going to bed, which increases the bodys metabolism (the chemical and psysical processes) and brain activity

I do though not think that having the last big meal at about 7 PM will inflict anything. This is very common for people, and shortly before going to sleep might mean just an hour or less before.