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.
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Some of your evening habits, including your nightly dessert or glass of wine, may be to blame for that less-than-bushy-tailed feeling. Read on to learn why you might wake 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, 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.
The fix: Add 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 abdominal swelling.
The fix: 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, 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 eating later in the night can cause issues like bloating or heartburn, Dr. Sonpal says.
The fix: 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.
4. 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).
So, if you don't hydrate enough throughout the day, you may feel the effects in your midsection the following a.m.
The fix: 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.
5. 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.
The fix: 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.
- 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?"
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.