What To Do When You Are Hungry At Night?

Do you feel like a hero during the day as you realize how good you are doing with your eating, only to sabotage it at night? Read this post to learn what to do when you are hungry at night instead of eating.

It’s not unusual to be hungry at night, eat everything in sight, and go to bed feeling like a heel? To tell you the truth, this is the most common and best kept secret of many overweight people.

We find it much easier to discipline ourselves to eating the right foods and staying away from junk foods all day. And then we lose it at night.

As a rule, we aren’t hungry at all. It’s an increased appetite that has nothing to with hunger. With that in mind, the key is to find out what is increasing our appetite, and deal with those things.

Things That Increase Cravings At Night

These are 13 things that you may not be aware of that are known to increase your appetite. Take a look at them and see if you can change something you are doing during the day that affects your hunger at night.

1. Carbohydrates

High glycemic carbs like:

  • Simple sugars
  • Candy
  • Any white flour
  • All sugars
  • Fried food
  • Processed foods

definitely increase your cravings.

Not only can these increase your need to eat, they will come back to make you feel hungry hours later.

Carbohydrates are one of the top contributors for increased appetite and weight gain.

2. Dehydration

This is one of the most overlooked and least discussed problems when it comes to curbing your eating in the evening. Don’t fall for the idea that dehydration means you’re in the hospital with drips forcing fluids.

Dehydration means you aren’t drinking enough fluids during the day to stay healthy.

And when your body and cells aren’t being satisfied with enough water, it is disguised as hunger.

When you look in the mirror, you are looking at a body made up of about 60% water! If you can get that, you can understand why a continuous supply is vital for basic health and survival.

Rehydrating constantly during the day:

  • Rids your body of waste material through perspiration and urination along with proper bowel movements
  • Maintains a constant body temperature
  • Lubricates joints

It’s no wonder that when we deprive ourselves of adequate water, our bodies respond with fatigue and hunger.

Drinking the bare minimum of water (64 ounces) every single day, will help solve the eating problem when you sit down to relax at night. And that’s water, not sodas, coffee, tea, and energy drinks.

3. Stress

Stress turns on hunger.

It’s not so easy for me to realize how stressed I am at work. I’m really pushing through all the stuff that must be accomplished and dealing with emergencies. I don’t have time to think about how I’m feeling?

It’s when I at last get to sit down after work and relax that I can be desperate for a cheeseburger, fries, or a bag of candy.

The truth is that stress actually affects the body in myriad of ways, and one of them is to trigger such an emotional demand for comfort foods that it’s almost impossible to know what to do to stop eating.

For one thing, stress triggers adrenaline and cortisol release.

These are 2 hormones that ramp up when our brain realizes we are having difficulties or stressing out, even if we aren’t conscious of it. As soon as these hormones start releasing, our body thinks it needs to turn up energy levels to keep up, and that means we need more food.

While this is going on, another brain chemical called serotonin drops and makes us believe we are hungry.

So, there’s a lot going on with stress that we don’t realize is happening until we start unwinding after work.

4. Depression

Some people find that depression suppresses their appetite, but most people wind up eating more to comfort the feelings of sadness and being unworthy.

Emotional eating can be the same thing as emotional hunger.

5. Poor Sleep Habits

It’s important to take a look at what time your hunger starts attacking you. Are you really getting enough sleep, or staying up too late in an effort to de-stress?

Sleeping habits could be causing you to feel hungry. The two hormones responsible for appetite and cravings are directly impacted by sleep habits.

6. Leptin

Leptin is a hormone living in all fat cells for the purpose of regulating energy and suppressing your appetite. It’s a unique an fascinating function — when it’s working?

  • High levels of this hormone in the body tell the brain that we have plenty of fat in storage and allow it burn energy.
  • Low levels of leptin inform the mind that we are in starvation mode and that we need to hold onto the fat.

Studies show that overweight men and women typically have low levels of leptin (HealthChildren.org). In fact, they are said to be leptin-resistant.

7. Ghrelin

Where would you be with only Leptin to suppress your appetite? Our bodies are so perfect, that we also have the hormone Ghrelin to balance that out. 

The hormone Ghrelin or, the hunger hormone, is there to boost appetites. Unlike Leptin that stays within fat cells, Ghrelin lives inside the stomach to alert your brain that it needs food. There’s been research indicating that this hormone could be held responsible for craving alcohol?

But here’s what we know for sure about Ghrelin: when you aren’t getting enough sleep, it goes into overdrive. It overpowers Leptin which gives us a feeling of being full and satisfaction, and starts creating those food cravings. 

So, there’s no doubt of the importance of both Leptin and Ghrelin, and that sleep deprivation plays a huge part in their behavior. When you can’t control your eating at night, maybe it’s time to consider how much sleep you’re getting?

8. Diet Sodas

Are you addicted to diet sodas? You may be cutting back on the calories at the same time you’re turning on hunger and cravings begging for something else to eat at night?

The problem with diet sodas is the very real risk of turning on hunger hormones that trigger a very real demand for something to eat. They actually stimulate more sugar cravings than without them, and lead directly to wondering what to do about eating at night. 

9. Skipping Meals

Ever skip any meals on purpose? Either think it’s a good way to lose weight, or think you just aren’t hungry at the moment?

Remember the Ghrelin hormone we talked about? Skipping meals means your brain is increasing the Ghrelin in your stomach and increasing hunger and food cravings.

As good as it seems to skip a few meals, it’s actually working against you, and the results can be showing up at night.

10. Medication

WebMD says that some medications can change our appetites including steroids, antihistamines, antidepressants, antipsychotics and some diabetic medications.

So, it only makes sense to take this into consideration when you’re at a loss as to why you can’t control your eating at night.

11. Social Eating

Social eating is when you eat just because the people around you are eating. Maybe you’ve just finished dinner, and wind up at a party or a friends home where everyone is eating. 

The simple fact is, that not eating when you’re not hungry starts with discipline and this is a good place to start. In fact, social eating is probably the easiest place to say no. And when you do, it’s a good start on saying no to eating at home when you’re not hungry.

12. Health Conditions

Here’s a reason you could be eating when you know you’re not hungry, that you can not correct.

Your appetite can increase because of health conditions or diseases. Truth is, you may not even be aware they exist. According to Medlineplus.gov these are just a few known health conditions that can increase your appetite:

  • Diabetes
  • Graves disease
  • Insomnia
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Low Blood sugar
  • Pregnancy
  • Premenstrual syndrome

13. Over-the-Counter Supplements

Your hunger pangs could be caused from taking over the counter dietary and herbal supplements?

To be honest, most vitamins won’t alter your appetite, but some can. I know that Vitamin C is known to improve nausea issues in some people undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment while leading to a loss of appetite.

What I’m saying is that it may be worth a try to check on any over the counter supplements you are taking. They could help curb that after hours appetite. 


Most people trying to lose weight find night the most trying time to discipline their eating habits, so you’re not alone. What you do when you are hungry at night is the difference in seeing results in your diet and not.

There are plenty of methods for staying in control and turning your back on the after work snacks. Taking into account all the possible things I’ve listed that could be turning on your appetite is a good place to start. 

Of all of them I’ve found the best thing to do, is be sure you are drinking enough water, cutting out carbs during the day, and eat plenty of fiber. Of all of these, water is the most important. 

Dehydration is probably the leading cause of late night hunger, so learn how to reach for a bottle of water instead of a snack. 

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