Eating eggs at night might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of foods that influence your sleep. For some people, eggs can cause sleep disturbances — particularly if there are any underlying gastrointestinal issues.
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However, others may find that the best time to eat eggs is right before bed. If you have trouble sleeping, try looking at your diet overall to determine whether eggs are helping or disrupting your sleep.
It’s possible that eating eggs at night may keep you awake if you have any gastrointestinal issues. However, for many people, eating eggs before bed causes drowsiness and may aid in getting a good night’s sleep.
Contrary to prior American Heart Association recommendations that encouraged people to consume fewer eggs, the research now points to eggs' nutritional value. March 2019 research published in Nutrients explains that in the late 1960s, researchers claimed that high dietary cholesterol from eggs and other sources equated to high blood cholesterol and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Today, however, eggs are included as part of a healthy eating pattern that includes a variety of nutrient-dense protein foods, according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Although egg yolks are higher in dietary cholesterol, they are not high in saturated fats, according to the Dietary Guidelines. As such, you can safely include eggs in your diet.
Moreover, egg cholesterol is not well-absorbed, and eggs therefore do not significantly impact blood cholesterol, says Nutrients. In fact, eggs contribute to feelings of satiety and can contribute to overall health.
Eggs are rich in other nutrients, too — including vitamin A, iron, vitamin B12, riboflavin, choline, zinc and calcium, adds Nutrients.
Most of eggs' nutrition and about 40 percent of the protein is found in the yolk, according to the Egg Nutrition Center. The yolk also includes fat-soluble nutrients such as vitamins A, D and E as well as the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Additionally, the fat in the yolk aids in the absorption of these nutrients.
Eating Eggs at Night
For people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), it's possible that eggs may interrupt sleep. Although the lean protein in eggs can help to ease symptoms, the higher fat content of egg yolks may exacerbate them and cause you to wake from sleep, according to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD).
The Mayo Clinic says GERD symptoms may include a burning sensation in your chest, aka heartburn, usually after eating. Symptoms may be worse at night. If you have nighttime acid reflux, you may also experience disrupted sleep, chronic cough, laryngitis and asthma.
If eggs cause digestive problems for you, stick to egg whites instead, says the IFFGD. Other dietary changes can be helpful for digestion, too. Try reducing or avoiding intake of:
- High-fat animal-based foods (including egg yolks)
- Carbonated beverages
- Citrus and tomato products
Meanwhile, up your intake of non-citrus fruits, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates like whole grains, potatoes and root vegetables, and unsaturated fats from plants and fish, says the IFFGD. (Eating this way is also part of a healthy eating pattern recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.) The IFFGD also recommends you avoid eating immediately before bed and finish your last meal three to four hours before bedtime.
Read more: 9 Things You May Not Know About Eggs
Benefits of a Diverse Diet
A study published in Food Science & Nutrition in June 2019 found that eating a high-quality, diverse diet supports better sleep.
In the study, the diet quality and dietary intake of urban adults from eight Chinese cities were evaluated in relation to sleep quality. The study found that lower consumption of eggs, greater food diversity and higher consumption of fruits and seafood were associated with better sleep quality.
Still, eating eggs before bed may actually aid sleep, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Eggs contain an amino acid called tryptophan that tends to induce drowsiness. Tryptophan is also present in dairy products, shellfish, salmon, tofu, certain cheeses and turkey — explaining that sleepy feeling you might experience after a Thanksgiving feast.
You may also find that the best time to eat eggs is first thing in the morning, says Keck Medicine of USC. Their high protein content can help you feel fuller for longer, so you'll be less likely to grab unhealthy snacks and meals throughout the day. Getting proper protein for the day can help with weight management, increase muscle mass, lower blood pressure and improve bone health.
Barring any digestive issues, and when included as part of a balanced diet, eating eggs before bed can have sleep benefits. You may wish to experiment with the best time to eat eggs to see how they either fuel your day at breakfast — or impact your ability to get a good night's rest.
- Nutrients: "The Golden Egg: Nutritional Value, Bioactivities, and Emerging Benefits for Human Health"
- Food Science & Nutrition: "Diet Quality, Consumption of Seafood and Eggs Are Associated With Sleep Quality Among Chinese Urban Adults: A Cross‐Sectional Study in Eight Cities of China"
- 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: "Key Elements of Healthy Eating Patterns"
- International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders: "Diet Changes for GERD"
- Mayo Clinic: "Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Avoid Drowsiness After Holiday Feasts"
- Egg Nutrition Center: "Egg FAQ's"
- Keck Medicine of USC: "9 Health Benefits of Eating Eggs for Breakfast"