The Dangers of Night Noshing


It’s two hours after dinner and you’re feeling hungry. You’re not alone. Nighttime snacking is common, and even more so for people who are stressed, or in the habit of eating after dark. Unfortunately, that 8 pm bowl of ice cream, handful of chips, or leftover sandwich half is likely making it difficult to maintain a healthy body weight.


young man eating food at night


That may seem like common sense, but it is also backed up by new research revealing the potentially devastating effects of eating late in the day.  A study recently published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that even modest after-dinner eating can increase overall hunger levels (by lowering the levels of leptin, a hormone associated with diminished hunger), decrease the number of calories your body burns, and spur molecular changes that cause the body to store more calories as fat.


The researchers concluded that the results explain the established correlation between eating later in the day and obesity. In short, the changes this type of eating creates in the body, makes it easier to gain weight—especially in the form of fat—and harder to lose it.


Weight gain is not the only detrimental effect of late eating. Whether it’s dinner or a large snack, food you consume closer to bedtime is food your body has to digest. Going through that process is basically the opposite of what your body needs to do to wind down and prepare for sleep. This can lead to bouts of insomnia and can exacerbate acid reflux and GERD. 


The problem is, even though your brain may understand all those facts, your body may still want that hit of nighttime calories. Turn to some simple strategies for flipping the script on cravings.


Coping with Evening Hunger

Avoiding eating after dark is a matter of reconfiguring impulses from the mind and body. We can experience late cravings, and we may also snack out of habit. You can rewire both physical and mental urges with some easy techniques.


  • Herbal tea. A large mug of herbal tea an hour or so before bed will create a feeling of fullness and may help relax your body and prepare it for sleep. Make sure the tea contains no caffeine; chamomile and lavender are the great choices.


  • Refocus. Meditation, mindfulness, and even reading can distract the mind from thoughts of heading to the kitchen for one more bite before bed. Changing your routine is especially effective if nighttime snacking has become a habit and part of your pre-bed ritual.


  • Activity. Whether it’s a long walk, a leisurely bike ride, or even a few minutes of slow yoga, gentle exercise at least an hour before bed can help diminish any hunger you might be feeling.


If all else fails and you absolutely have to have your after-dinner snack, you can at least make it healthy. Eat a small handful of organic mixed nuts, chewing them completely before swallowing. The experience should satisfy your craving without adding unreasonably to your daily calorie count. However, you’ll sleep better, lose weight, and feel more energetic if you eat dinner early and avoid any evening snacks.


Share some love if you like this post!

7530cookie-checkThe Dangers of Night Noshing

Related Articles

Combatting Alzheimer’s with Hibiscus Tea

Research concluded last year indicates that the compound gossypetin found in hibiscus tea may prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Gossypetin is a flavonoid, one of a group of compounds that give plants their flavors and

Read More »

Should You Use Blue Light Glasses?

Although this lens technology has been around since the 1960s, blue light-filtering glasses have only been widely available since the early 2000s. Originally invented to protect the eyes of Apollo astronauts, blue light

Read More »

A CPAP Alternative for Treating Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a life-disrupting condition. A disorder of the upper airway, it involves the air passage closing during sleep, causing snoring, gasping, choking, and episodes of jerking awake. Sufferers often

Read More »

New Uses for Continuous Glucose Monitoring

Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is a technology that automatically tracks blood glucose levels on a 24-hour basis. Not only does it allow users to determine their levels at any given moment, the data

Read More »

Dry Needling

Dry needling is an effective treatment for relieving musculoskeletal pain and restoring range of motion. Similar to acupuncture (but based in Western medical science rather than Eastern medical practice), the procedure is called

Read More »