Why Eating in Bed Is Not Recommended

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Eating in bed may seem like an innocuous pleasure. And an occasional breakfast tray laden with berries and pancakes on a lazy Sunday or bowl of ice cream while watching a movie in bed isn't bound to be a problem.

However, there are many reasons why habitually eating in bed is not recommended. In fact, while, for some, this eating practice may feel like the ultimate luxury, it may contribute to a variety of unintended adverse outcomes, including an unhealthy relationship with food, sleep disruption, poor hygiene, and added housework.

Learn more about why eating in bed may not always be the healthiest choice—and how to break the cycle if this indulgence has become a habit.

Overview

For much of human history, eating in bed has been relegated to either those with the resources to lounge in bed at mealtimes (and perhaps, with servants to bring them their meals) or the sick. Most other people needed to get up and work and/or eat with their families, often at a communal table.

Today, many meals are gobbled down on the go, which may be why the idea of eating in bed often kindles significant allure—at least in the abstract.

That said, in practice, taking meals in bed can lead to a host of issues. Plus, indulging in a snack or meal in bed every once in a while can quickly become a regular habit, potentially derailing good sleep, and other healthy lifestyle practices.

Eating in Bed Decreases Comfort

Yes, eating in bed sounds like a great idea. You may see yourself snuggling up in your bed, legs under a soft blanket, back against a stack of comfy, fluffy pillows, with a yummy plate of food on your lap. Maybe you're watching a show with your partner and/or kids, with each of you nestled in next to each other in one big bed. It seems idyllic, maybe magical, but this imagined coziness often does not hold up in real life.

Consider what happens when one person reaches over the other for their drink, has to get up to go to the bathroom, accidentally elbows your dish, and/or your pet jumps up on the bed, causing everything to tumble.

How about when someone has the festive idea of making popcorn, getting a bag of chips, or ordering burgers and fries for delivery? Now, you've got ketchup on your duvet, milk on your pillow, and crumbs everywhere.

Eating in Bed Reduces Cleanliness

Yes, the crumbs are everywhere; no matter how diligently you use napkins, pay attention to eating carefully, or attempt to sweep them off the sheets. They will linger, prompting you to either endure sleeping on a gritty surface or change your sheets—and who needs more chores?

Plus, the decision to bring food into your bedroom also invites the potential for pests to follow. Ants, roaches, and rodents all are drawn to the bits of food that will inevitably get deposited all over your bed and maybe on the floor and bedside table, too.

You may end up leaving dirty dishes in your room as well, something that makes your room untidy and adds to the allure for pests. Eventually, this practice can be unhygienic if it becomes a regular occurrence.

Eating in Bed Results in Poor Sleep Hygiene

Combine crumb-laden sheets with a messy room and eating at odd hours, and you've got a recipe for potential sleep disruptions. Clearly, the physical discomfort of dirty sheets may interfere with a good night's sleep. But, what may be less apparent, is that a disorderly bedroom (with say, spill stains on the comforter, half-eaten meals on the side table, or an empty box of pizza on one corner of the bed) may make restful sleep harder to come by.

In fact, while research is limited, some studies show that uncomfortable sleeping surfaces and distractions in the sleep environment (from such factors as uncleanliness or unpleasant odors) can lead to trouble sleeping. Other studies indicate that getting adequate sleep, for many people, is intricately linked to maintaining positive sleep habits, such as limiting activities besides sleep from the bedroom and keeping a clean and comfortable bedroom.

Eating in Bed Negatively Affects Eating Habits

Additionally, eating in bed may lead to less than optimal eating habits, including breaking down traditional, structured meal times and places. This may contribute to eating more than intended or more often and eating at odd times (such as late at night), all of which can contribute to weight gain, low energy, emotional eating, an unhealthy relationship with food, and/or other health issues. Plus, studies show that unhealthy eating habits often go hand-in-hand with poor sleep quality.

Tips for Breaking Your Eating in Bed Habit

If you find that your occasional breakfast in bed has turned into a free-for-all of snacking under the covers, there are steps you can take to break the habit.

Track the Behavior

Firstly, it's helpful to track how often you're eating in bed, including when, what you're eating, what the experience was like (negatives and positives), and why you chose to eat the food in bed. This information may give you insights into what motivates you to eat in bed—and give you ideas about how to stop (or limit) the behavior.

Replace the Behavior

Once you know what appeals to you about this practice, you can try replacing that benefit with a healthier option. For example:

  • If eating in bed feels festive, opt for doing another fun activity in your bed, such as playing a board game, reading a book, or watching a movie.
  • Aim to make your meals at the table more exciting by lighting candles, putting flowers on the table, and/or decorating the place settings in a special way.
  • If you like the coziness of eating while snuggled up in bed, take some pillows and blankets and make a cozy picnic on your living room floor instead.
  • Consider the type of food you eat in bed. Options like sliced apples, nuts, yogurt, carrot sticks, or dried mango will make less mess and have a less negative impact on your eating habits overall.

Reestablish Healthy Sleep Hygiene

If eating in bed is impacting your sleep, aim to reestablish healthy sleep hygiene, which, as noted above, generally means having a clean, tidy, comfortable, dark space that's used primarily for sleep—especially right before you go to bed.

So, avoid eating in bed right before you turn out the lights and/or throughout the day. If you are going to eat in bed, aim to do it on the day you'll be changing the sheets. That way, you won't have to sleep on crumb-covered sheets or make more work for yourself by dirtying them before laundry day.

If you simply love eating in bed, you can mitigate the drawbacks of the habit by limiting how often you do it, say to once a month or once a week.

A Word From Verywell

While it's not the end of the world if you eat in bed, it's also not a habit that's recommended for healthy eating, hygiene, or sleep. However, it is also understandable that sometimes you may have no choice. If you're renting a room in someone's home, if you are quarantining during the pandemic, or if there are other reasons that you don't have access to the kitchen (or another room) it is perfectly reasonable to eat in your room and on your bed.

Don't feel bad if you occasionally indulge in this habit or if circumstances require you to eat in bed. Just know that it's not an ideal situation. Do what you can to minimize how often you bring food into your bed.

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