How to Sleep When Hungry

The information in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. [Read our full health disclaimer]

Updated on February 16, 2023

Do you know that many individuals tend to go to bed on an empty stomach in the past few years? If you’re one of these people and want to learn how to sleep when youre hungry because of weight management or for any personal reason such as spiritual beliefs, then this guide is for you.

For a quick guide here are some ways how to sleep while hungry:

  • Do light physical activity (stroll, stretching)
  • Eat food 2-3 hours before your bedtime
  • Distract yourself (watching a show, reading, or a podcast)
  • Drink water
  • Meditate 

However, you should take note that not all bodies are the same, so it’s best to seek professional advice first. With that said, let’s dive right in and learn how to sleep when hungry!

So, How to Sleep When Hungry?

If you find that eating at night isn’t an option for you any longer or you’re looking to change your habits from now on, you must be aware that this may require some effort. Here are some well-known techniques and tips to sleep while hungry.

Get Some Light Exercise

Exercise is beneficial not just for removing all negative thoughts but also to prepare to sleep. One of the most effective exercises is walking. Walking for a few minutes can help to eliminate all extra energy levels and, finally, will make you feel relaxed when you lay down.

man wearing white shirt and black shorts walking

Just take a stroll in the neighborhood or at the nearby park, take in the fresh air, and let go of any tension. Focus on both the physical as well as mental health aspects. Walking prior to sleep is a good way to get away from a hungry stomach. Be sure, however, to take a stroll in a secure environment.

Take Your Meal Two to Three Hours Prior to Going to the Bed

One of the reasons that you’re hungry prior to bed could be because you had your mealtime or meal schedule too early in the day.

Let’s suppose that you eat dinner around 5:00 PM and then go to bed at 11:15 pm. You’ll probably be hungry the moment you lie down. Therefore, try changing your eating habits based on your sleep schedule. Determine the times that you fall asleep each night, and then eat your last meal approximately 2 to 3 hours prior to going to bed. So, you can ensure that your sleep duration is enough at night and will not wake up every morning with a grouchy stomach.

Take a Break With a Soothing Podcast or Watch Your Favorite Show

The trick is to stay focused. If you are sleeping on an empty stomach, it can cause you to turn and toss around, mostly because you are aware of the amount of food you’re eating and the delicious food you can eat.

woman sleeping in black couch

Instead of constantly ruminating about your favorite food items, try listening to or watching something that you love which can keep you entertained. For example, a soothing podcast, or even an interactive TV show will help you stay focused and prevent you from having thoughts about hunger. This type of activity can assist in getting you to sleep as your eyelids get heavier after a few hours. Be sure to not be consuming any food program.

Drink Enough Fluid

You may want to cut down on meals before you go to bed or at the very least, try to reduce the amount. But, you could take a drink to experience the feeling of having a full stomach, without having food. They can replace food for a short time however, the drinks that you consume cannot substitute food for long durations and therefore should not be considered a permanent solution if you feel hungry.

Try drinking herbal tea. For example, green tea is light and is a good alternative that will satisfy your cravings without having to prepare an entire meal. Other teas that are inspired include chamomile, which provides that perfect relaxing soothing effect before you go to bed.

Fun Fact: Did you know that some compounds found in milk, such as tryptophan and melatonin, can help you sleep?

However, when you feel that your hunger is due to low blood sugar levels, try giving yourself an energy boost with sugar. Add lemon or sugar to your tea to increase the energy. If you are not fond of tea, substitute it with a delicious glass of warm or cold cup of milk. Warmer milk is perfect for helping you sleep better as well, and based on the kind of milk you purchase the glass you buy may have the right amount of sugar to satisfy your appetite and your cravings.

Read a Book

If you are of the opinion that listening to the show on a podcast or watching a television show is too energy-intensive and tiring then you should try reading an interesting book. It’s a great sleep stimulus for some.

man reading a book in bed

Therefore, I recommend picking an easy book, perhaps an article in a magazine or a blog article. These options could aid you in falling asleep earlier than you expected and divert your thoughts from the hunger.

Many people find reading to be the ideal method to boost their creativity. Others choose books as the perfect way to relax or get away from the daily grind. Whatever you prefer. This is the ideal occasion to combine your reading and writing activities with a fresh sleep routine.

Try to Meditate

It may sound strange, but hunger meditation is actually a thing. The purpose of this particular practice is to combat the sensations of thirst and hunger. In order to achieve this state of mind and body try this easy technique, take a deep breath, and let your body and mind relax.

These steps are to be followed:

  • Make yourself comfortable on the bed and locate the most comfortable place to sleep in.
  • Relax your abdominal muscles and repeat a phrase or word to yourself. You can do it loudly or through your head. Use words like “sleep,” “relax,” “breathe,” etc.
  • As you concentrate on breathing, then release the air from your abdomen, try to repeat this phrase: “release tension.”

Have Some Sleep Hygiene

While you’re sleeping the body temperature decreases. When you shower cool before bed, you’re telling your body that sleep is close by starting the process of lowering the temperature. The cool water tricks the body into sleep mode and can help you achieve deep sleep and have a better circadian rhythm.

Get a New Mattress

Maybe you can’t fall asleep because your mattress is not comfortable enough? Having a cozy mattress might help you fall asleep even when you’re hungry. If you think your mattress is the problem, you might want to check our top 10 recommended mattresses here.

What Are the Benefits Of An Empty Stomach During Sleeping?

Many people will choose to skip breakfast and take a whole refrigerator of food for dinner. Although it’s easy to head into the kitchen to enjoy a quick snack around the middle of the night, consider it carefully and weigh the effects.

Numerous studies have shown that avoiding caffeine and bedtime snacks before bed can improve sleep quality.

hand holding a cup of coffee beans

Caffeine is known to boost neuron firing rates within the brain’s system. This ensures that our bodies are in a state of full alertness.

However, it is necessary for the body to digest all food completely before shutting down completely at the time of day. If this is not done correctly, one may not get good sleep and wake up hungry with a gastric stomach. It’s so unpleasant! Here are some possible negative effects of sleeping with an empty stomach:

  • Indigestion
  • Heartburn
  • Bloating
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness

However, in the event of having a light and empty stomach, it can lead to better sleep and consequently, get up relaxed and rejuvenated. There is evidence to suggest that fasting can bring a variety of advantages, including:

  • Lower levels of LDL cholesterol
  • Natural hormones are improved
  • Control of weight, thus preventing obesity
  • Better immune factors
  • Better sleep cycles
  • Enhancing insulin sensitivity

Is It Healthy Going to Bed Hungry?

The short answer is yes and no.

Many sleep with a stomach full of food in order to be more comfortable doing it regardless of whether they follow the nutritional guidelines or not. Most people opt for not eating prior to bed to ensure that they meet their daily nutritional requirements or adhere to an effective weight loss program.

In many cases, a healthy eating plan can cause you to feel full just before you go to bed. However, before we proceed and examine the possible adverse effects, let’s look at the reasons why you might get to bed with a feeling of hunger:

Malnutrition or Undernutrition

When you go to bed, the feeling of hunger could also indicate a serious health issue called malnutrition. Feeling constantly hungry while getting ready for bed can signal a lack of nutrition and could be a sign of a serious problem.

Undernutrition stems from malnutrition and refers to eating less than 1,800 calories per day or being unable to absorb the correct amount of vitamins, minerals, and other essential components of an adequate and balanced diet. In the long run, undernutrition can cause slower growth in children as well as other health issues for both adults and children.

Taking food supplements will help in meeting your body’s vitamins and minerals needs. You can order authentic food supplements on Amazon such as the one below.

simply nature's promise food supplement

Sleep Deprivation or Lack of Sleep

You might also be feeling hungry in the evening because you’re not getting enough sleep.

The hormone that causes fatigue can be Ghrelin. The hormone increases cravings for food and the sensation of hunger.

Leptin is another hormone that can also be stimulated due to sleep issues and may result in feeling hungry even after having an entire meal.

Having a sufficient amount of sleep duration per night is important to feel less hungry when going to sleep.

You’ve Been Following a Healthy Meal Schedule

A healthy eating plan consists of three meals daily and light snack breaks between meals should you need to.

hands sharing food

If you decide to get to bed, eating an adequate diet that ends with a meal at a time that is early in the evening before bedtime can leave you feeling slightly hungry while you go to sleep several hours later.

Reducing Caloric Intake

One reason you might feel hungry upon laying down is that you are trying to cut back on calories for weight control. You must ensure that you are maintaining an equilibrium within your eating habits regardless of whether you are following an extremely restrictive diet like keto or vegan. Intermittent fasting lets you customize your diet plan. If you are unable to sleep on an empty stomach, then you should contemplate fasting for the first hours of the morning instead.

What Are the Possible Side Effects Of Going To Bed Hungry?

Being hungry at night can trigger a variety of unpleasant emotions, like a feeling of emptiness or dissatisfaction due to being hungry.

It is better if you go to bed hungry or sleep hungry rather than eat just before going to bed.

woman with stomach ache

Some may also experience adverse effects due to having a meal before the time of bed. For instance, some may be afflicted by weight gain and an increase in BMI.

Other people might experience disturbed sleep and stomach indigestion if they eat near the time of bed. The metabolism slows as the body is getting ready for sleep. Therefore, it doesn’t require extra calories.

What Foods Should You Avoid Prior to Going to Bed?

Beware of foods that take a long time to digest, cause stomach upset or cause you to be unable to rest. It could be a case of eating foods that are:

  • greasy
  • sugary
  • fried
  • spicy
food being deep fried

You should also be cautious about the drinks you drink prior to your bedtime.

Consuming too much alcohol could result in frequent bathroom trips during the evening (nocturia).

In addition, drinks that contain caffeine or alcohol can make it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep.

What Food Should You Eat Prior to Going to Bed?

If you feel hungry in the evening that you’ll need to eat a meal prior to switching off the lights.

There are a variety of healthy foods and habits to select that will help you sleep better while avoiding sleep issues and stomach upset.

It is recommended to consume whole grain products or food products that contain tryptophan.

Foods With Tryptophan

In the late-night snack, you can choose to eat foods that contain the amino acids tryptophan. They aid in sleep by stimulating serotonin, a hormone that is present in your body.

The foods that have this amino acid are:

  • eggs
  • nuts
  • turkey
  • fish
  • chicken

Whole Grains

Take a look at eating a small number of foods that contain tryptophan with food made from whole grains. The whole grains contain complex carbohydrates or carbs, and will not cause stomach upset.

Whole grain foods comprise:

  • bread
  • cereal
  • crackers

What Can I Do to Avoid Getting Hungry Before Bed?

You might want to change your diet to eat a lot of food before you go to bed if you find yourself in need of food prior to the time of bed because of hunger.

The way you think about what and when you eat can assist you in making changes to your diet so that you don’t get cravings for an after-dinner snack.

Here are some helpful tips to avoid nighttime hunger and late-night meals:

  • Take into consideration having three meals regular meals throughout the day. Add small, nutritious food snacks when necessary.
  • Find out how many calories you must consume. Split your meals across the day. Make sure to eat a healthy meal at night. A normal adult’s diet comprises 2,000 calories per day.
  • Consider eating extra protein or fiber during dinner time. Fiber and protein can assist in keeping your stomach full.
  • You should eat a well-balanced diet that includes diverse food items. This includes vegetables, fruits, proteins, dairy products with low fat, and whole grains.
  • Reconsider drinking your calories. Smoothies digest more quickly than solid foods.
  • Avoid eating too many unhealthy meals. Avoid food items that are made up of salt or refined sugar, and also contain a lot of saturated fat in big amounts such as peanut butter.

Final Thoughts

Sleeping hungry could be safe provided you’re eating a balanced diet during the course of your day. Refraining from late-night meals or snacks could help you avoid weight gain and a higher BMI.

If you’re hungry to the point that you’re not able to go to bed, you can have a healthy snack that is easily digested and aids in getting sleep. Beware of big meals, and sweet, spicy, or oily foods prior to the time you go to bed.

Furthermore, take note that the problem of hunger at night is due to excessive fatigue or malnutrition can be a problem and needs to be taken care of. You might also need to consult your nutritionist to give you professional advice, especially if you have sleep conditions such as sleep apnea.


Article Sources

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  3. Binks, H., E. Vincent, G., Gupta, C., et al., (2020). Effects of diet on sleep: a narrative review. Nutrients, 12(4):936.
  4. Paoli, A., Tinsley, G., Bianco, A., & Moro, T. (2019). The influence of meal frequency and timing on health in humans: the role of fasting. Nutrients, 11(4):719.
  5. Nakajima, K. (2018). Unhealthy eating habits around sleep and sleep duration: To eat or fast?. World journal of diabetes, 9(11):190.
  6. St-Onge, M. P., Mikic, A., & Pietrolungo, C. E. (2016). Effects of diet on sleep quality. Advances in nutrition, 7(5):938-949.
Bree Taylor - Lead Editor

Lead Editor

Bree is an interior designer with a passion for helping people improve their sleep quality.

She specializes in creating comfortable and functional bedroom spaces that promote a good night’s rest.

When she’s not testing mattresses or helping people get the best rest possible, Bree loves to travel and explore new cultures.

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