Is Eating Salad Before Bed Good or Bad?
In general, eating anything before going to bed makes it more difficult to sleep.
The only exception is if you’re hungry enough to the point that it will disrupt your sleep even more.
There’s nothing special about getting vitamins and minerals right before you sleep instead of during the day, so sleep quality is the main thing we’re concerned with to answer this question.
How Eating Salad Before Bed Will Impact Sleep Quality
A team of researchers compared how long it took subjects to fall asleep based on the type of meal they ate, and how long before going to sleep they ate it. (1).
They found a few interesting things:
- The time it took to fall asleep was lower when eating a high glycemic index (GI) meal 4 hours before bed compared to a low GI meal.
- Eating a meal 1 hour before sleep resulted in it taking longer to fall asleep compared to eating 4 hours before.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, the GI measures how much a food raises blood sugar levels.
In general, high GI foods (e.g. white bread, sugar) are less healthy than low GI foods (e.g. spinach, beans, seeds). But when it comes to eating before bed, the opposite is true.
Overall, most salads would be considered low GI meals, meaning they take longer to digest and are more likely to disrupt sleep if eaten before bed. With that being said, they’re still probably better than candy (which is high GI), since sugar is known to worsen sleep.
However, a high sugar fruit like a banana is likely a better alternative than salad.
SummaryEating high GI foods like most salads close to bedtime typically results in a longer sleep onset latency (time to fall asleep). But there are likely worse choices if you absolutely need to eat, and keep in mind that not all individuals will respond the same.
The Portion Size and Dressing Makes a Difference
There ’s a couple other factors that will affect how good or bad eating a salad before sleeping is.
First is the serving size.
One study found a decent correlation between the amount of food eaten at night and how long it takes to fall asleep.
In short, the more calories that someone eats at night, the longer it typically takes to fall asleep (2).
Since salads are relatively low in calories for the most part, that may make them better than other meals at night.
In addition, the study also found that the time it takes to fall asleep correlated to the amount of fat eaten before bed.
If you’re eating a plain salad, it’s going to be relatively low in fat. And as long as you’re not shoveling in too many seeds, or slathering on oil-based dressings, the fat content should be relatively low.
SummaryAs long as a salad is a reasonable size and doesn’t have too much of an oil-based dressing or other high-fat ingredients, it should have less of an impact on sleep.
Risks of Eating Salad Before Bed
As we’ve seen, the main risk of eating salad, or any food before bed is that it will be harder to get to sleep.
However, there’s a few other potential side effects as well:
- Heartburn - As you digest food, acid is produced and potentially leads to acid reflux, which isn’t good for you and can also affect sleep. In addition, lying down is the worst position for acid reflux, since any acid can travel up the throat more easily.
- Dental health - Salads are often eaten with an acidic dressing (i.e. any dressing with vinegar or lemon). It’s generally not recommended to brush your teeth shortly after eating acidic food because the acid can weaken enamel and brushing can strip it away.
Summary: How Bad is Eating Salad Before Bed?
Eating salad as your last meal of the day before going to bed can be fine, but the amount and timing is key.
You should ideally eat it at least a few hours before you go to sleep (the ideal time is likely close to 4 hours even).
However, if you are really hungry, eating a salad before bed is better than many alternatives. The most important things to keep in mind are to try and keep it low in fat (go easy on dressings and seeds), and try to use a non-acidic dressing as well if possible.
Medical Disclaimer: The information on SnoozeUniversity.com is not intended to be a substitute for physician or other qualified care. We simply aim to inform people struggling with sleep issues about the nature of their condition and/or prescribed treatment.