One of my readers very appropriately asked me this question after my newsletters on late-night eating.
This question should have a straightforward answer, considering we live on a 24-hour clock based on the earth going around the sun. With adjustments, plus or minus, based on the time of year, we would eat at about the same time every night. All pretty basic. That would be the case if we still lived in caves and went to bed when the sun went down. But we don't. We live in a world where our circadian rhythms are out of wack due to electric lights, cell phones, and all-night restaurants and parties in cities that never sleep.
And even though it is a scientific fact that humans require coordinated timing of behavioral, physiologic, and metabolic circadian rhythms for a healthy body and mind, we continue to mess with those rhythms. We are all eating and going to bed at different times of the day and night. And 40% of us often get a dreadful night's Sleep.
I might have initially said that late-night eating is defined by the time of day for most. But that definition has changed based on our propensity to mess around with mother nature. Since our schedules are vastly different, I feel late-night eating depends not on the time of day but on how soon a person goes to bed after a meal.
As a general rule of thumb, nutritionists will tell you to wait about three
hours between your last dinner and bedtime. Sufficient time for that dinner to get through your system, for your blood sugar levels to normalize, and for a good night's Sleep. How food processes through our bodies and affects our lives is a different 'Long And Windy Road.' A Topic for another time. But keep that 3-hour rule in mind. Plus, the later you eat and the fewer fats you ingest (since they slow stomach emptying), the shorter your stomach emptying time and the sooner you can go to bed.
But many other factors can affect our Sleep. The changes in our circadian rhythms and nutrition are the tip of the iceberg. I know it is a given that exercise is good for Sleep, but rest assured, it can have an equally negative impact. Next week I will show how to ensure that exercise, as Aretha Franklin says: Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ates The Positive.
Shortly I will explore what, if anything, our meal timing has to do with managing our weight. (Notice I do not refer to this as late-night eating!) In part, my research on this subject (and other longevity issues) will reference Dr. Ronda Patrick. Recently Dr. Patrick published this article: Eating late increases hunger, decreases calories burned and changes fat tissue. It is an excellent intro to my thoughts and perspective and worth the read.
A lot more to come! See you next week.
Your friend and fellow Bluerisa traveler,