Eating right before sleeping is one of the common practices many people have adopted in the past eight months. Although many did it before this year too, it has become more prevalent since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. This is why health experts are warning against the habit of sleeping on a full stomach is dangerous.
For many people, dosing off right after having a good meal is the ideal way to have a good sleep. In fact, some even plan their day in a way they get time to sleep after having food. Generally, the unhealthy impact of this habit is common knowledge.
The practice is associated with laziness, stomach issues, and pain. However, the vast majority is unaware of the other effects going to sleep after eating may have. For instance, doing so constantly can eventually lead to weight gain and related health conditions.
Over time, the gained weight can contribute to bigger health issues including obesity, metabolic conditions, heart disease, and diabetes. This is why many people who struggle with obesity or being overweight usually have the habit of eating before bed.
A lesser-known impact of sleeping on a full stomach is also damage to the lining of the esophagus because of stomach acid. This happens when acid travels up back to the esophagus from the stomach.
Typically, the stomach uses acids to breakdown food in order to absorb nutrients from them effectively. During this process, a lot of acidic content is present in the stomach. To prevent it from going back, a group of muscles called the esophageal sphincter keeps foods and acid inside.
However, the muscle does not give the same response to a food that is not completely digested. Undigested or partially digested food is a common outcome of sleeping after eating. So, it is able to pass through the esophageal sphincter along with acids into the esophagus.
When this happens consistently, a person may develop acid reflux due to a damaged esophagus. People who have this condition have an extreme burning sensation in their chests along with pain. In addition, a persistent sore throat, difficulty in swallowing, change in voice, and coughing are also common.
Over time, the effects can worsen further. A person with acid reflux can also have changes in their esophagus or esophageal sores. This may also lead to the development of Barrett’s esophagus.
Barrett’s esophagus is a serious health condition. The current medical research shows that people with it have a significantly higher risk of developing esophageal cancer. This is precisely why sleeping on a full stomach is dangerous.
Therefore, it is important to get treatment for acid reflux or prevent it from happening in the first place by changing eating habits. Try to have food at least two to three hours before heading to bed. Going to sleep early also helps as it decreases the chances of eating late at night.
For people who continue to experience acid reflux, there may be an underlying health issue such as a hernia. So, consulting a doctor as soon as possible is better.