Heart experts have advised that adults should never eat within two hours of bedtime –ideally, nothing after 7pm.
The blood pressure of a healthy person drops at least 10 percent when the individual goes to sleep but a study by Dokuz Eylül University in Turkey which used over 700 people has found that eating 2 hours of bedtime keeps blood pressure stably high.
Experts think this is because eating releases a rush of stress hormones when the body should be starting to relax.
People who do not see their blood pressure fall at night are known as ‘non-dippers’ – and have a much higher rate of heart-related death.
Late eaters were nearly three times more likely to be non-dippers, the Turkish researchers found.
Researcher Dr Ebru Özpelit, presenting her results at the speaking at the European Society of Cardiology congress in Rome, said: ‘If we eat late at night, the body essentially remains on high alert as during the day, rather than relaxing for sleep.
‘Stress hormones are secreted, causing blood pressure not to decrease during sleep, which should normally happen.’
Dr Özpelit, from Dokuz Eylül University in Turkey, tracked 721 on people diagnosed with high blood pressure, with an average age of 53.
She found that those who ate within two hours of going to bed were 2.8 times more likely to retain high blood pressure overnight.
Some 9.4 million people in the UK are diagnosed with high blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension.
They are already at a higher risk of heart disease, but if their blood pressure does not fall at night, that risk increases to a far higher level