Especially if you're a night owl, mornings are rough enough as it is. Add a bloated, gassy stomach into the mix and it's no wonder if you don't feel like a ray of sunshine in the a.m.
Some of your evening habits, including your nightly dessert or glass of wine, may be to blame for that less-than-bushy-tailed feeling.
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Read on to learn why you're waking up bloated, and what you can do to solve the problem for good.
1. You Ate Bloat-Inducing Foods the Night Before
Many of us like to enjoy a sweet treat after dinner, but this may not be the best decision for your digestive system. Too much sugar can cause bloating for some people, but artificial sweeteners (think: aspartame, sucralose) can be even more problematic.
When eaten in large quantities, these can cause digestive unrest, including bloating, trapped gas and even diarrhea, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Eating high-sodium foods or snacks before bed can also make your body retain extra water, causing bloating the morning after, says Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, dietitian and author of Feed the Belly: The Pregnant Mom's Healthy Eating Guide. Chips and salsa, popcorn and soy sauce are just a few foods that may cause unwanted bloating even hours after you've eaten them.
If you're wondering how to get rid of bloating, try adding potassium-rich fruits and veggies to your breakfast, Largeman-Roth recommends. Bananas, melon and potatoes are all high in potassium and can help soothe your stomach. Asparagus, cucumber and celery can also be helpful.
Also, avoid carb-heavy breakfasts if you wake up with some discomfort, Dr. Sonpal says. Breads, cereals and pastries can leave the gut feeling pressured and bloated, especially if you're pairing them with lactose-heavy foods like cheese or cream.
2. Your Nightcap Is to Blame
Alcohol is another common culprit when it comes to bloating. When you drink a glass of wine (or two) before bed, the alcohol is absorbed by the stomach and small intestine and can cause inflammation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The next morning, this alcohol-induced inflammation may present itself as some unwanted swelling, including a distended abdomen.
You don't need to cut out your nightly glass of wine completely, but it's definitely best to stick to one drink in the evening if you want bloating relief, Largeman-Roth says.
Also, try to enjoy your beverage earlier in the night, to give your body ample time to digest it, and make sure to hydrate before and after.
3. You're Eating Too Soon Before Bed
The timing of your meals matters just as much as the ingredients. You may like to hit the hay soon after your p.m. meal, but your stomach may not be as fond of that plan.
Your body needs time to digest, which is why you feel bloated after eating later in the night.
This can also be experienced as upper abdominal bloating, causing issues like pain or heartburn, Dr. Sonpal says.
There's no hard- and-fast rule when it comes to your eating windows — every person's digestive system is different. But it's probably best to eat your last meal or snack at least two to three hours before bedtime to ensure restful sleep and a bloat-free morning, says Dr. Sonpal. He also suggests adding a walk after dinner to help with digestion.
If you have to eat late at night sometimes, you can try taking gas medicine to help relieve pain and bloating.
4. You Ate Too Much Fiber
Sometimes, too much of a good thing is not a good thing. The same is true for fiber.
A macronutrient needed for a healthy gut and movement of your stool through your intestines, eating foods high in fiber or taking fiber supplements is a great way to ensure digestive health.
However, if you eat too much fiber, too much bulk can be added to your stool, making it harder to move through your system and causing constipation, bloating and cramping, per the Mayo Clinic.
This could easily be a reason why you're feeling end-of-day bloating, or bloating in the morning — especially if you've treated yourself to a high-fiber bowl of cereal before bed.
If you're not used to getting lots of fiber in your diet, try introducing it slowly and in small amounts. This will help reduce the chances of it causing negative effects, per the Mayo Clinic. If you're unsure about how much fiber you need, talk to your doctor or a dietitian who can make suggestions.
5. You're Not Drinking Enough Water
Your body is wiser than you probably give it credit for. Every part of your system needs water to function properly, and your body is excellent at balancing the amount of water that goes in and out, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
You're constantly losing fluid by breathing, sweating and (of course) peeing. But when your body doesn't have enough water coming in to balance the amount it's losing, you begin to retain or hold onto the water in your system (which is why you may find yourself using the restroom less often, or experience bloating and constipation).
So, if you don't hydrate enough throughout the day, you may feel the effects in your midsection the following a.m.
Finding what relieves bloating fast can be a tough process, but water is a surefire way to reduce the bloat. The exact amount of water you need to drink each day will vary from person to person, but generally women need about 11.5 cups of water per day and men need about 15.5 cups, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Monitoring your urine is a great way to know if you're hydrating properly. Ideally, you should pee a light yellow, straw color. A dark yellow is a good sign that you're not getting enough fluids.
6. You're Not Exercising Enough
Taking a break from exercise may be another reason you're waking up bloated, Dr. Sonpal says. Exercise is part of an overall healthy lifestyle and can help encourage proper nutrition and hydration.
"While exercise cannot, alone, fix the issue of bloating, it can help keep your system functioning at its best while also physically helping move gas for easier passage," he explains.
Figuring out how to stop bloating through exercise? Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio activity each week, as recommended by the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Moderate activity can include walking, hiking or jogging.
You can also add a few minutes of stretching to your day to combat bloating. Even a simple cat-cow or spinal rotation stretch can help promote better digestion. Try this 10-minute, total-body routine.
Sometimes bloating can indicate gastrointestinal issues like IBS, inflammatory bowel disease or celiac disease. If you can't pinpoint the cause of your bloating and you're waking up feeling puffy more often than not, talk to your doctor.
7. You're Stressed
While it may not seem like stress could have that much of an effect on your gut, it can.
Besides having a "nervous stomach," where you're more prone to diarrhea or loose stool when anxious or stressed, you could also experience bloat during stressful times, too.
In fact, a March 2019 review in Advances in Therapy found that stress may be associated with an increased perception of abdominal bloat, and that those assigned female at birth (AFAB) with bloating frequently reported a history of depression and anxiety.
One way to reduce bloating due to stress is to reduce or manage stressors in your life. This can be done through planning out your daily schedule, yoga or meditation, deep breathing, journaling and other self-care techniques, like taking a warm bath or spending time with loved ones.
8. Your Gut Doesn't Have Enough Good Bacteria
Bacteria? Good? That's right — your gut in its healthy state should have plenty of good bacteria that make up what's called your gut's microbiome.
If the amount of good versus bad bacteria is off kilter in your gut, you may experience that bloat when you first wake up (or any time of day, really).
This kind of imbalance can occur if you're sick with a bacterial infection, if you've recently taken antibiotics or if you have an illness called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), per the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
One of the best ways to rebalance your gut's microbiome is by eating foods that are naturally high in probiotics (i.e. the good bacteria), like yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut. You may also want to prioritize foods with prebiotics (think: fruits, veggies and whole grains such as oats and whole wheat), because prebiotics "feed" the probiotics in your gut, helping them thrive and creating a stronger microbiome overall.
You can also talk to your doctor about taking a probiotic supplement. There are several different kinds of probiotics on the market, but try reaching for one that particularly targets gut health. You could also try other vitamins and supplements that target bloating.
9. You Have a Food Intolerance
Sometimes, the cause of morning bloat can be due to a food intolerance, like lactose or gluten intolerance.
Additionally, if you are bloated every time you eat certain fruits or sugars, you could be sensitive to foods high in FODMAPs, or small chain carbohydrates like lactose or fructose.
A common symptom of a food intolerance is almost-immediate bloating and the need to go to the bathroom, or conversely, bloating and constipation.
Your doctor can help you determine whether you have a food intolerance through a series of tests like the hydrogen breath test or the elimination diet. After, they may suggest trying a low-FODMAP diet, which should help reduce the symptoms of bloating and stomach pain.
When to See a Doctor About Bloating
If you've tried the above suggestions to reduce morning bloat (including natural remedies for bloating like peppermint oil, or a gentle laxative to relieve constipation) and still feel puffy, you may want to talk to your doctor.
They can help you narrow down the cause of your bloating, and even help you differentiate between natural and unnatural bloat (because it is normal to bloat every now and then!).
If your bloat is accompanied by pain, cramping, gas and diarrhea or constipation, it's likely the result of an underlying condition like irritable bowel syndrome, which can be treated with medication and lifestyle changes.
- American Academy of Family Physicians: "Bloating"
- Mayo Clinic: "Artificial Sweeteners and Other Sugar Substitutes"
- CDC: "Alcohol Questions and Answers"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Fluid Imbalance"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "How Much Water Do You Need"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "How Much Physical Activity do Adults Need?"
- Advances in Therapy: "Bloating and Abdominal Distension: Clinical Approach and Management"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "The Microbiome"
- Mayo Clinic: "Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet"
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