As if waking up before the alarm goes off isn't bad enough, you might wake up with a rumbling stomach and hunger pains, which makes it hard to get back to sleep. If you regularly wake up in the middle of the night hungry, making a few lifestyle and dietary changes might keep you satiated until it's time to get up and eat breakfast.
Eat a healthy evening meal. Include foods rich in fiber, such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains, as well as foods that contain protein, such as lean meat, poultry, fish, beans and tofu. Fiber and protein help fill you up and are digested slowly, which means you'll feel full for a longer amount of time.
Eat a small snack an hour or so before you go to bed. Pass on snacks high in saturated fat, such as potato chips and ice cream. Too much saturated fat too close to bedtime might actually get in the way of a good night's sleep. A handful of nuts, a carton of yogurt or a piece of fresh fruit are all healthy options that will help keep you satisfied until morning.
Skip the snack when you do wake up hungry. When you give in and have a snack in the middle of the night, it tricks your body into thinking you need to eat when you'd rather be sleeping. Over time, skipping the snack can teach your body to stop feeling hungry when it's not time to eat yet.
Drink plenty of water in the afternoon and early evening. Sometimes, being mildly dehydrated or thirsty can feel like hunger. Of course, don't drink so much that you'll need to use the bathroom during the night.
- Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine: Twelve Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep
- Seven Days to a Perfect Night's Sleep; Debra L. Gordon
- If you know certain foods cause you to develop indigestion or heartburn, don't eat them as part of your evening meal or for a bedtime snack, even if they are nutritious.
- Certain medical conditions, such as hypoglycemia, can cause you to wake up hungry. If diet and lifestyle changes don't help, ask your doctor if there might be a medical cause for your hunger pains in the night.
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.