Recent Blog Articles

Staying Healthy

Do people really get nightmares from eating late?

June 01, 2012

Medical conditions that wake you up can potentially lead to increased recall of dreams—including disturbing ones. A person who wakes up during the dreaming phase of sleep is "closer" to the dream and will therefore recall it more vividly. As for late-night eating directly causing nightmares, small studies of individuals who ate immediately before sleep have not shown a consistent relationship.

However, nocturnal eating can interrupt your sleep in various ways, prompting recall of disturbing dreams by the mechanism described above. For example, eating a large meal, especially a high-carbohydrate meal, could trigger night sweats because the body generates heat as it metabolizes the food. Also, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), caused by lying down with a full stomach, may trigger symptoms that wake you up.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.