Eating while sleeping? It’s no surprise that you dream while you sleep; but did you know that those dreams can be so vivid, and that some of the sensations of your dream world can bleed over into reality?
Believe it or not, some people report feeling hungry in their dreams, just as they do in real life.
The question remains, though: are they actually hungry while sleeping? And if so, why? To answer this question and more, let’s dive into the world of dreams and see what happens when we go to sleep hungry.
How to keep yourself from eating while sleeping
Although it is relatively common to experience hunger while sleeping, there are things you can do to keep yourself from eating in your sleep. If you eat a big meal shortly before bedtime, then that food will still be digesting when you lie down for sleep, which can cause nighttime hunger pangs. Eat smaller meals more frequently and get plenty of exercise during the day to keep yourself from being hungry while sleeping.
Also consider not eating immediately before bed; if your stomach is full, you’ll have less room for air and will not feel as hungry. To ensure you stay away from those midnight snacks that leave crumbs in your sheets, opt for protein-rich foods like eggs and lean meats instead of processed foods like crackers or cookies.
What to do if you eat while sleeping
If you eat while sleeping and notice you’re gaining weight, there are a few things you can do to try to stop. Firstly, place your snacks further away from your bed so that when you wake up in hunger pangs, it will be easier to avoid snacking.
It’s also important to eat meals that contain good fats and protein throughout the day so you don’t go into sleep hungry, which is a known trigger for nighttime eating. And if all else fails, ask your doctor about sleep medication or talk therapy.
What it means if you eat while you sleep
If you do eat during your sleep, it can mean that you’re experiencing sleep-related eating disorder (SRED). SRED is very different from snacking at night. It’s characterized by involuntary behaviors like eating and drinking while in a deep sleep, but not to obtain nourishment or for a sense of pleasure.
Another name for SRED is sleep related eating disorder, and when diagnosed it’s considered a form of nocturnal myoclonus—it causes you to twitch while sleeping, which leads to opening your mouth as you go through different stages of sleep. Oftentimes, eating while sleeping isn’t done on purpose—rather it’s out of habit or compulsion.
Steps to stop eating while asleep
First, start a log to track when you eat while asleep. This will help you figure out what times of day you’re more likely to doze off with food in your mouth. Some people find it helpful to leave a clock or notepad next to their bed at night; they’ll check in periodically while falling asleep to see if they ate something in their sleep or write down anything unusual. (At first, there won’t be much.) Second, stop eating right before bedtime.
The best way to prevent yourself from snacking during sleep is to avoid eating too close to bedtime.
To make sure you don’t have food in your stomach overnight, eat dinner at least three hours before going to sleep and no later than six hours beforehand. And make sure that dinner isn’t too large: Eating late can lead to indigestion and heartburn that could wake you up during sleep. If you have trouble sleeping without a snack, try having some decaf tea or another non-caffeinated beverage instead.