When it comes to sleeping, we all know the fundamentals: sleep is that time for our mind and body to restore themselves; a time to dream and digest the psyche of our day-to-day and reset the day and night for yet another day. However one of the roles of our sleep is that it allows each and every one of our cells to renew, heal and attend to its restoration and well-being. With that in mind, each organ goes through the process of cleansing itself during our sleep, which is why there is currently a rise in the ideology that weight gain and loss is heavily related to when we eat and thus our circadian rhythms.
It all makes sense at a closer look. If sleep is the time dedicated for our body to cleanse and heal itself, then making sure that our digestive system isn’t working over hours while we sleep and therefore distract itself from the cleansing process seems like common sense. As author of the book The Circadian Code Satchin Panda writes, “If you look around at anything that moves in our daily life, they all revolve around timing,” and our digestive system is no exception.
It has long been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. With that, there is a rising trend in avoiding big meals in the evening, and some are even vowing not to ingest anything after 7 pm (Oprah famously is one of these people). The common knowledge thus far has been that eating late at night isn’t healthy or good for maintaining our weight because while we sleep, our body needs rest from digestion in order to focus on restoring its cells all around. But with research on circadian rhythm advancing at the speed of light, it’s becoming apparent that when we eat has more to do with the light in our surrounding at the time than it does with our body’s activity after eating.
Do you too feel like breakfast is the most important meal of the day? What if we were to tell you that the daylight in your usual surrounding during and following breakfast plays a huge role in the meal’s importance to your day? Exposure to light while eating in the morning kickstarts our circadian rhythm and sends a boosting signal to our digestive system, encouraging it to metabolise our breakfast in a fast and well-balanced way.
On the other hand, if you are used to eating late at night, often in dimly lit restaurants, kitchens or living rooms, then equally, the low-intensity light in your surrounding triggers the production of our sleep hormones and slows down own digestive system, making it difficult and timely to metabolise our dinner.
In a recent interview, Cleveland Clinic Expert Dr. Michael Roizen said that on our journey to balance what we eat according to the time of the day, we should stop stereotyping food, “I’ve gone to having salmon burgers for breakfast. They’re wonderful. Or avocado toast, and, if you will, oatmeal for dinner.” Continuing that “Your body clock shifts to wanting to eat and feeling hungry in the morning and not hungry in the evening.”
Of course weight gain and loss is immensely linked to what we eat, our lifestyles, exercise routines and our general day-to-day habits, but as research further explores the impacts light intake has on every single aspect of our lives, it’s certainly time to start thinking about when we eat as a major influencing factor on weight gain and loss.