Updated: Feb 4
It's become an age old question, "Is it okay to eat before going to sleep?"
Well, lets think of how the body actually works for a second...
Many of our hormonal cycles are connected to nature, specifically the sun and moon cycles. When we wake up in the morning, you have cortisol, the stress hormone to thank. It gets us up and ready to start the day. As the day progresses, cortisol levels start to drop and once the sun sets and it gets dark, melatonin, the quintessential sleep hormone starts to rise.
During the day, the body is meant to be productive, active and moving. So this is the optimal time for food intake. Your digestive system is fully energized and ready to break down pretty much anything you consume. However, as it gets closer to sundown, digestion starts to slow. This is completely normal because as it gets closer to the time you are meant to go to sleep, your body's focus and priorities change a bit.
Instead of focusing on keeping you awake and energized, the goal now becomes to detoxify, repair tissues (especially muscle), repair and replace old DNA and cells and allow the brain to release cognitive energy and stress.
What does this have to do with eating at night?
Because the top tasks for the body are detoxification, digestion is no longer a priority. Meaning, digestion slows way down and your body's ability to absorb and utilize nutrients consumed later at night is decreased.
So what is the "rule of thumb"?
Stop eating 2-3 hours before you go to bed and preferably once the sun sets. This will help you work with your body and ensure you are utilizing the foods you are eating in the most efficient way.
For more guidance on this topic along with fitness, nutrition and self care, check out our monthly subscription Glow: the Health Hub.
For $1/day you will have full access to all our guides, exclusive video content and weekly live Q&A's with our Chief Wellness Officer and Integrative Nutritionist, Jaclyn Jacobsen, M.S., CPT and other experts in the wellness space.