Medically reviewed by Onikepe Adegbola, MD, PhD
Your stomach has to expand and contract to accommodate the food it’s processing, so it’s perfectly natural for your belly to grow a little after eating. However, if this follows sensations of fullness, discomfort, or bloatedness, or if it does not go away quickly, you may be suffering from bloating.
Some of your evening routines, such as your nightly dessert or drink of wine, could be the culprit for your bushy-tailed feeling. Bloating can be inconvenient and annoying when it occurs at times when overindulgence isn’t a factor, such as first thing in the morning.
Why Do I Wake Up Bloated?
Here are some reasons why you could wake up bloated and what to do can solve the problem for good.
- Bloat-inducing foods you ate the previous night
Eating the wrong foods before the night is frequently the cause of bloating. After dinner, many of us like a sweet dessert, but this may not be the ideal choice for the gut. Excess sugar causes bloating, but artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose can make it worse.
A study titled “Sugar malabsorption in functional abdominal bloating: a pilot study on the long-term effect of dietary treatment” was published in Clinical Nutrition in 2005. The study found sugar malabsorption and intolerance appear to be more in patients with functional abdominal bloating and gas-related complaints.
When consumed in large quantities, these might induce digestive problems such as bloating, gas, and even diarrhea. Eating high-sodium foods or snacks before bed can cause your body to retain additional water, producing bloating the next morning. Chips and salsa, popcorn, and soy sauce are a few foods that might induce bloating even hours after consumption.
Solution: Eat potassium-rich fruits and vegetables for breakfast. Potassium-rich foods like bananas, melon, and potatoes can soothe your stomach. Asparagus, cucumber, and celery are good options for bloating relief.
If you wake up bloated, avoid carb-rich breakfasts. Bread, cereals, and pastries can make you feel bloated and heavy in your stomach, especially when eaten alongside lactose-rich foods like cheese or cream.
- The culprit is your nightcap
When it comes to bloating, alcohol is another thing to blame. A study titled “Alcohol and gut-derived inflammation” was published in Alcohol Research: Current Reviews in 2017.
The alcohol before bed can promote inflammation as alcohol is absorbed into the digestive system. This alcohol-induced inflammation may present the uncomfortable belly-bloating on the next morning.
Solution: You don’t have to give up your nightly glass of wine entirely, but it’s preferable to limit yourself to one drink in the evening. Also, enjoy your glass of wine early in the evening to give your body ample time to digest it, and drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
- You’re eating too close to your bedtime
The order in which you eat your meals is just as important as the ingredients. Although you may prefer to get into the sack after your evening meal, your stomach may not be fond of this habit.
According to a study, our body requires time to digest food, and eating late at night can cause issues like bloating or heartburn. The research study titled “The role of diet in the development and management of gastroesophageal reflux disease: why we feel the burn” was published in the Journal of Thoracic Disease in 2019.
Solution: When it comes to your eating windows, there are no hard and fast rules, as everyone’s digestive system is different. It is recommended to consume your last meal or snack at least two to three hours before bedtime to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep and a bloat-free morning. Try going for a walk after dinner for better results.
- Your body lacks hydration
Your body is probably wiser than you believe it to be. A study titled “Water, hydration, and health“ was published in Nutrition Reviews in 2010. The study showed every component of the human body requires water to function, and the body is quite good at balancing the amount of water that goes in and out.
Breathing, sweating, and, of course, peeing, all contribute to fluid loss. When your body doesn’t get enough water to replace what it loses, it begins to retain or hold on to the water it already has; thus, you may find yourself using the restroom less often. If you don’t drink enough water throughout the day, you might see the repercussions in your abdomen the following morning.
Solution: The exact amount of water you need to drink each day varies from person to person. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, women require around 11.5 cups per day and men need about 15.5 cups.
- You’re not getting enough exercise
Taking a break from exercise can be another reason you wake up bloated. Exercise is an essential aspect of living a healthy lifestyle since it promotes optimal diet and hydration. Exercise cannot cure bloating on its own; it can assist the digestive system in smooth functioning while allowing gas for easier passage.
Solution: The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend following 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio activity every week. To help with bloating, add a few minutes of stretching to your day. Even a simple cat-cow or spine rotation stretch can promote better digestion.
Tips To Prevent Morning Bloating
After eating, a certain degree of enlargement is typical. Bloating can be caused by dietary intolerances, allergies, sluggish digestion, or constipation. Below are the solutions that can help you avoid feeling bloated in the morning:
- Check the time of your meals
Many of us have our big meal at the very end of the day, just before we go to the couch for the night. Switching your meal timings is considerably better for digestion, energy, and blood sugar levels. Have your most filling meals during the day and a lighter dinner. This allows you to thoroughly digest your food before going to bed, which might help you avoid morning bloating.
- Eat slowly and at the right time
Mealtimes and busy schedules don’t go well together. Our neurological system switches to fight or flight mode when in stress. This diverts energy away from our digestive system, allowing our bodies to focus on breathing and blood flow to muscles. This discomfort can occur if your digestive system does not effectively break down the meal. Eating mindfully helps the nervous system refocus energy on properly digesting our food.
- Choose your beverages wisely
Beverages are frequently high in sugar, which might mess with your gut microbes. Gut bacteria are sensitive, and too many sugary foods might irritate them, resulting in bloating. Ensure you have drinks at least half an hour apart from your meals to allow your food to digest properly and decrease the risk of bloating.
Bloating, which occurs when your abdomen protrudes more than usual, is often accompanied by a sense of fullness and pain. Eating habits such as eating too rapidly or too much can cause it. Some meals and beverages, such as alcohol and high-fiber snacks, may also contribute to the problem.
But like IBS, food sensitivities, food intolerances, food allergies, and even heart or liver failure, bloating might have a medical cause that necessitates diagnosis and treatment. Many over-the-counter drugs can help relieve bloating. However, if you continue to have frequent bloating, you should consult your doctor.
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