The Disadvantages of Sleeping Immediately After a Meal

Updated November 21, 2016

When you fill up your body with food, the food collects in your stomach. Your body sends blood to your stomach, and your stomach produces the acids and enzymes needed to digest the food and send it to the intestines. As a result of blood going to your stomach, you may feel drowsy or tired because your body is hard at work. You may feel the urge to nap, but there are disadvantages to sleeping after you eat.

Weight Gain

Many people think that going to sleep after eating will cause your body to use the food as fat instead of energy. This is not true. Your body uses food for energy and fat, regardless of whether you are awake or asleep. However, when people are awake, they usually are burning more calories than when they are asleep. So going for a walk or washing dishes after a meal is a good way to burn extra calories before you go to bed. Sleeping after eating does not always cause weight gain, but it may reduce your body's calorie expenditure, which can indirectly cause you to gain weight.

Quality of Sleep

Some people claim that going to sleep immediately after eating can cause troubled sleep, such as nightmares or frequent awakenings. Scientist debate the veracity of these accounts, but some argue the digestive process indeed may cause people to have uneasy sleep. In addition, foods may contain caffeine, sugar or other stimulants that can disrupt normal sleep cycles. If you have troubled sleep with certain foods, then it is a good idea to avoid those foods before going to bed.


Lying down immediately after eating can increase your likelihood of experiencing heartburn. When you lie down, the passageway between your oesophagus and stomach becomes horizontal, which can make the gasses that cause heartburn travel more easily. Fatty and acidic foods are particularly bad for heartburn and cause the most problems for those with digestive issues. Alcohol is another common cause of heartburn, and it can diminish your quality of sleep.

Night Eating Syndrome

There is debate about the definition of Night Eating Syndrome, or NES. Some say NES refers to those who intake the majority of their daily calories immediately before sleeping, which can pose problems for their quality of sleep. Others say NES refers to people who wake up and cannot go back to sleep without eating. Either way, a dependency on food for sleep can be dangerous and lead to poor sleep and rapid weight gain.

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