Growling stomachs and other digestive system noises can be prevalent during the nighttime hours. This uncomfortable and often embarrassing sensation is caused by a variety of factors, from digestion to hunger to air swallowing. Understanding why your stomach is making noises can help you determine the best way to address it so that you can get a good night’s sleep.
Read on to learn more about what can cause nighttime abdominal noises, how to prevent them, and when it might be time to visit a medical professional:
Causes of Stomach Noises
Stomach noises occur because of the movement of gas and liquid in the digestive system. These noises can be caused by many things, ranging from the food you ate during the day to certain types of health conditions.
We will now look into the various causes of stomach noises and how to reduce them:
Eating Too Close to Bedtime
Eating too close to bedtime is one of the most common causes of stomach noises. Eating late can cause food to stay in the stomach for an extended period and cause physical disruptions in digestion. This can lead to excessive gas production and movement within the intestines. You may even experience symptoms such as bloating or Nausea.
When you eat before going to bed, your body has a harder time digesting and absorbing the food in a timely manner. When food remains in your digestive tract too long, it begins to ferment, causing small pockets of gas in your intestines. These pockets can create gurgling or rumbling sounds that may seem louder at night due to reduced background noise levels. Additionally, if there is active physical movement of contents through your digestive tract while you are trying to sleep, this could also contribute to audible stomach noises during the night.
To reduce nighttime stomach noises, try:
- not eating right before going to bed or at least two hours prior for optimal digestion.
- eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day may also help keep noise levels from getting too loud by evening time.
If lifestyle changes are still not reducing symptoms, talk with your healthcare provider about further evaluation regarding underlying gastrointestinal disorders that may be contributing towards excessive stomach gurgling.
Eating Too Much
Eating too much late in the day is one of the most common causes of stomach noises at night. If you consume a large meal in the late afternoon or evening, your digestive system will still be hard at work digesting it long after you’ve gone to bed. This can result in stomach gurgling, rumbling and other noises which can disrupt your sleep. Eating too much can also cause digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and constipation which contribute to nighttime stomach noises.
To help prevent these annoying sounds from occurring, it is important to ensure that you are eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of large meals at night. Additionally, avoid any fatty or fried foods, highly processed foods or spicy dishes before bedtime as this can exacerbate the issue. Eating more fresh vegetables and fruits as part of your supper can help reduce symptoms as it will help keep your digestion regular.
Eating Spicy Foods
Eating spicy foods can cause stomach noises, particularly when eaten close to bedtime. The symptoms caused by spicy foods are usually temporary and harmless. These stomach noises, called borborygmi, can include gurgles, rumbles and pops which are created as the digestive tract moves food along. It’s a normal process that can be exacerbated by the consumption of spicy foods because these types of dishes tend to cause an increase in digestive fluids and acids.
This increased fluid or acid activity may not only increase stomach noise but it can also cause a person to have indigestion. Eating spicy foods late at night or too close to bedtime is generally not recommended as it can disrupt one’s sleep due to discomfort or restlessness from the digestive activity it causes.
If you suffer from frequent stomach noises after eating late at night or if you have persistent acid reflux associated with your diet, it is important to talk to your physician about adjusting your diet and meal times accordingly:
- Adjusting your diet
- Adjusting meal times
Eating High-Fat Foods
Eating high-fat, oily or spicy foods before bedtime can lead to abdominal noises and stomach rumbling, primarily because of the way fat is digested. It takes longer for your body to break down lipids than other nutrients, triggering the gastric motility response. Additionally, some fats are not easily digestible, such as trans and saturated fatty acids. As these pass through your gastrointestinal tract undigested, gases such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen are released which can cause stomach rumbling and noises in your gut.
Other factors, such as consuming too large portions at nighttime due to hunger and eating quickly can also contribute to this issue. Eating a light snack before bed may help reduce some of these stomach noises.
Eating High-Fiber Foods
Eating high-fiber foods can cause stomach noises, especially at night time. These foods add bulk to your stool and can create gas, bloating and gurgling noises as they move through your digestive system.
Foods high in fiber may include:
- Whole grains
- Legumes such as peas and beans
- Nuts and seeds
Although beneficial for your health overall, eating these foods in large amounts can cause discomfort and excess noise in your stomach. Try spreading out the intake of these types of foods throughout the day instead of consuming them all at once.
Drinking Carbonated Beverages
Drinking carbonated beverages, such as soda and sparkling water, can cause your stomach to make noises. When you drink carbonated beverages, the gas from the bubbles travels through your digestive system. This gas then becomes trapped in the stomach and small intestine before it is released as air or passed through the rectum. The buildup of gas causes the rumbling sounds of the stomach that we all know so well.
To reduce these noisy conditions, limit your consumption of soda and other carbonated beverages and add more fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains to your diet:
- Fresh fruits
- Lean proteins
- Whole grains
Stress is a common cause of stomach noises, including rumbling, gurgling and even growling. Stress can upset the delicate balance of your digestive system and, as a result, cause various symptoms such as increased gas production, bloating and noisy stomach.
Stress causes changes in the way your body processes food, which can result in trapped gas in the intestines that causes loud noises to be heard coming from your stomach. Psychological stressors, such as anxiety or fear can slow down digestion resulting in abdominal cramping and acid reflux leading to stomach noises. Stress hormones released during times of emotional stress can also alter contractions of the small intestines making them less effective at pushing or eliminating food waste from the body.
When people experience stress during meals or snacks, digestion may become slowed down or distracted leading to increased amount of time for food waste to remain inside your digestive system creating noise eventually inaudible from outside your body. To reduce these symtoms it is important to take steps to reduce or manage stress levels in order to positively impact digestive functioning and ease noisy stomach issues.
Treatments for Stomach Noises
Sometimes, your stomach makes noises at night due to hunger or indigestion. This is a fairly common problem, but luckily there are some treatments that can help. In this article, we’ll explore some of the treatments available for stomach noises, including:
- Diet changes
- Lifestyle modifications
Avoid Eating Too Close to Bedtime
It is important to avoid eating within 2-3 hours of bedtime to prevent your stomach from making noises at night. Eating close to bedtime can cause gastric acid indigestion, as the food will not have enough time for proper digestion before you go to sleep. This can also cause heartburn or acid reflux that can wake you up in the middle of the night with a noisy stomach. Eating smaller meals closer to dinner and avoiding late-night snacks can drastically reduce abdominal rumbling at night.
In addition to avoiding eating meals or snacks too close to bedtime, it is also generally recommended that you avoid alcoholic beverages before going to sleep. Alcohol causes indigestion and, in some cases, bacterial overgrowth in the stomach which may lead to increased gas production and abdominal noises during sleep.
Furthermore, high fiber diets may be associated with increased incidence of abdominal noises at night due to its effect on gut flora and fermentation of food particles which may lead to more bacteria breaking down undigested food particles in your GI tract.
Avoid Eating Too Much
Eating too much in the evening can lead to uncomfortable stomach noises later in the night. Eating large meals or eating frequently throughout the day can make it difficult for your digestive system to properly digest food during the night.
As a general rule, it is best to avoid eating large meals late at night and instead focus on lighter meals or snacks that give your digestive system time to relax before you go to bed. Eating slowly, taking time for breaks between sentences, and focusing on chewing thoroughly also helps promote good digestion.
If you do eat a larger meal late at night, try going for a short walk after dinner. This helps break down food easier and decreases your risk of having excessive stomach noises in the evening. Drinking plenty of water before bed also helps promote healthy digestion and can help reduce unwanted nighttime sounds coming from your stomach.
Avoid Eating Spicy Foods
Spicy foods and heavily seasoned foods have been known to cause even normally quiet stomachs to gurgle and make a variety of noises. To avoid this, it is best to reduce the amount of spicy foods that are consumed, particularly before bedtime. Furthermore, it can also be helpful to exclude acidic ingredients such as tomatoes, lemons, and oranges from the diet as they can increase stomach noise.
Drink plenty of water before bedtime – dehydration also leads to an accumulation of gas in the digestive system which can make gurgling noises.
Avoid Eating High-Fat Foods
To reduce stomach noises at night, you should avoid eating high-fat foods. High-fat foods take longer to digest and can cause the digestive system to produce more gas that can lead to louder and more frequent stomach rumblings.
It is recommended to eat meals with a balanced macronutrient ratio of no more than 20% of calories coming from fat. This will help you stick to healthier sources of fats such as brown rice, nuts, seeds, soy products, and fish – which are all essential for optimal health. It is also important to eat dinners at least a few hours before bedtime so that your digestion has time to process the food before going to sleep.
In addition, avoiding spicy foods such as hot peppers may help reduce stomach noises since they tend to cause reflux and discomfort in the digestive system. This can lead to increased gas production and loud rumbling sounds in the intestines. Other high-FODMAP foods that may worsen stomach noises include:
- Carbonated drinks
- Citrus fruits
To minimize their effect on your body it is best if these foods are eaten in moderation or avoided completely before bedtime.
Avoid Eating High-Fiber Foods
Eating high-fiber foods is one of the main causes of stomach noises. High-fiber foods take from four to five hours to digest, usually resulting in a noisy stomach. To reduce belly noise at night, it’s recommended that you avoid eating high-fiber foods like beans, grains, cruciferous vegetables and any whole fruits or vegetables too late at night. Instead, opt for easy-to-digest proteins like poultry and fish with some whole grains and vegetables during the daytime hours.
Additionally, cutting back on overall fiber intake can help reduce gas production and noises coming from the stomach.
Avoid Drinking Carbonated Beverages
Squelching the stomach noises at night can be achieved by avoiding carbonated drinks during the day. While it is impossible to avoid all instances of gas in the digestive tract, limiting or eliminating fizzy beverages will reduce the amount of gasses present and therefore lessen the chances that there will be noisy reverberations in the evening.
Carbonated drinks such as soda, seltzer and beer cause an increase in gas production which leads to more uncomfortable stomach noises. Other sources of gas production include chewing gum, certain foods like broccoli and cabbage, beans and some dairy products. Taking steps to reduce these items from your diet can help to prevent loud rumblings at night.
The first step in reducing stomach noises or any type of gastrointestinal discomfort is to reduce stress. This means taking the time to relax, decompress and find balance in your life. Identify activities that help you de-stress like yoga, meditation, reading, listening to music and spending time outdoors.
In addition to reducing overall stress levels, be mindful of triggers throughout the day that can put your body into a stressed response. If you notice an uncomfortable feeling building up as you tackle various tasks or worries throughout the day, practice simple breathwork exercises to reduce tension and refocus your energy.
Being mindful of what type of food you eat will also help significantly reduce stomach noises. Avoid eating anything too close to bedtime as well as processed or fried foods which can increase inflammation in the gut and make digestion more difficult for some people. Eating slowly, mindfully and drinking plenty of fluids (nothing with caffeine) with meals can also ease digestion and make sure your stomach has enough liquid to break down its contents with ease.
In summary, it is perfectly normal for your stomach to make noises at night. It can be caused by hunger and by the natural processes of digestion. Eating a light snack before bed can help keep these noises from becoming too loud. In some cases, a medical condition may be the cause of your noisy stomach, so it’s best to talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your stomach’s health.
With the right care and attention, you can keep any abdominal grumbling quiet.