This is the latest you should eat at night if you want to sleep well and not gain weight

You had dinner hours ago but you’re still awake, and your stomach starts telling you it wants a late-night snack.

Now you know you’re not supposed to eat that late, because you’ve heard it’s bad for you, but how late is too late?

Besides snacking, how late can dinner be?

Just like the circadian rhythm that controls our sleep, scientists think our bodies have a circadian clock for eating, too. And messing with this clock by eating too late or at weird times could affect our sleep and our ability to maintain a healthy weight.

While most Americans eat our biggest meal at dinner, multiple studies have found this is linked to weight gain.

Researchers have had groups of people eat more calories at breakfast than dinner, while the other group eats more at dinner than breakfast. Inevitably, the first group ends up losing more weight while the second group ends up gaining it.

In studies, people who eat most of their calories at dinner also tend to skip breakfast, get worse sleep, eat more calories overall, and be obese. That said, skipping breakfast may not be the worst thing in the world.

So when exactly should you stop eating?

Scientists can’t agree on a single set time, but the consensus seems to be within three hours before bedtime. So if you go to bed at 11 p.m., don’t eat after 8 p.m.

Banishing late night snacks after that time could help alleviate the symptoms of acid reflux disease, too.

If you still feel those uncontrollable hunger pains late at night, try shifting when you eat.

Get more of your calories earlier in the day, aim for at least 30 grams of protein per meal, and eat six smaller meals instead of three huge ones. All of these things have been linked to weight loss.

Hopefully when Friends comes on like it does every night at 11, your stomach doesn’t expect a treat, too.

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