A recent poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation in 2022 revealed the correlation between consistent mealtimes and improved sleep quality. The study found that adhering to a set eating schedule can positively impact sleep patterns.
This can be explained by the body’s release of insulin, a hormone that helps break down food to produce energy. The hormone indirectly influences sleep through its effect on metabolism and blood sugar. Insulin release triggers the circadian rhythm and signals the body to wake up. When mealtimes are irregular, the body’s internal clock becomes confused, disrupting sleep patterns.
How Irregular Eating Schedules Affect Your Sleep Quality
When you eat at irregular intervals, your body’s internal clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, can become disrupted. The circadian rhythm regulates various biological processes in the body, including sleep and wake cycles. One key factor regulating this process is the timing of food intake.
When you eat at different times each day, your body’s production of insulin and melatonin becomes irregular, which inevitably interferes with the body’s preparation for sleep.
For example, if you eat breakfast at 8:00 AM one day and 10:00 AM the next day, the rest of your meals will also be pushed back by two hours. The delay affects the timing of other hormonal releases, including melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle and is typically released in the evening. However, if you eat your last meal later than usual, your melatonin release may be delayed as digesting your food takes precedence in your body.
When your body is accustomed to a regular eating schedule, it can anticipate when food is coming and prepare for it by adjusting hormone levels and other bodily processes accordingly.
How To Eat On Schedule
To follow an eating schedule, it is recommended to keep a food journal for a week to track hunger cues. Once you understand your hunger patterns, you can develop a routine. Starting small is key to successfully implementing changes in your lifestyle. Based on your food journal, calculate three average times for your meals, set reminders or alarms, and follow your new schedule at least three times a week.
Over time, your body will become accustomed to the routine and naturally adjust to your new schedule.