Is Snacking in Bed Actually That Bad?

Breakfast in bed or the occasional late-night snack might not seem like a big deal, but eating in bed can lead to a host of problems.

Breakfast plate on bed
Photo: Tetra Images - Jamie Grill / Getty Images

We’ve all done it: You’ve just arrived home from a long day, so you kick off your shoes, grab a bag of chips, lie down—and start snacking in bed. Perhaps your kids surprise you with breakfast in bed every now and then, or your bed’s become a prime spot for takeout on a Friday night in front of the TV. Whether it’s a one-time occurrence or a guilty habit, you’re certainly not alone.

According to a 2022 study conducted by IKEA, at least 22 percent of respondents reported that they ate a meal in bed in the last year. Of course, many people have no choice but to eat in bed regularly due to hospital stays, health conditions, mobility issues, and other reasons, and it must be acknowledged that eating in bed isn’t an option for many. For those who do have a choice, though, eating in bed is typically not a smiled-upon habit. But is it really that bad to eat in bed?

Is Eating in Bed Actually That Bad?

There’s no one-size-fits all rule when it comes to eating in bed, and its true impacts are largely unknown due to limited research. But experts do have strong opinions on eating in bed frequently (if you don’t need to). 

According to Food & Wine, eating in bed discourages mindful eating, which means you could be consuming more than you realize. Laying down while eating is also bad for digestion and can cause increased risk of choking, since your food has to find its way down the esophagus horizontally instead of vertically. Stomach acid could also rise back up your esophagus if you eat laying down, triggering acid reflux.

Another concern is that you may disrupt your sleep if you do anything in your bedroom or bed other than snooze. Sleep experts agree that your bed should never be used for other activities, since it can make it hard for your brain to power down when it actually needs to. In other words, falling asleep can be a mind game. The Sleep Foundation says, “To build a link in your mind between sleep and being in bed, it’s best to only use your bed for sleep.”

Breakfast plate on bed
Tetra Images - Jamie Grill / Getty Images

Other Hidden Risks of Eating in Bed

You know eating in bed can be disruptive to mindful eating and even your sleep schedule, but there’s also the added risk of attracting pests and rodents when you eat in bed.

No matter how careful you think you’re being, crumbs and food particles dropping off of your plate and into your sheets are guaranteed. That means that you likely are increasing the risk of critters joining you in the bedroom.

Bugs like ants or stinging insects are attracted to sugar crumbs, whereas cockroaches and rodents will be attracted to just about any type of crumb. If you live in an area that already has a pest problem, eating in bed could inadvertently act as an open invitation to all kinds of unwanted pest guests.

When it comes to eating in bed, don’t do it if it’s not necessary. Of course, doing anything once in a while is okay, but if you frequently have your meals in bed, you could be messing with your sleep cycle, inviting in pests, impacting your digestive health, and more. Instead, keep your meals to your table as much as possible.

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