Why eating at night is not such a guilty pleasure. (take a look inside for the 10 SD comments reward)
Let’s admit it: each of us at least once in his or her life did one of those nighttime fridge raids.
Do you remember the feeling of guilt, always there to spoil the moment when you are enjoying your favorite sandwich at an unreasonable hour?
Well, maybe, just maybe, you shouldn’t feel so guilty about eating at night anymore.
It’s quite understandable where this generally accepted maxim comes from: we can’t control our bodies at night, and as soon as you fall asleep with our bellies stuffed with whatever you ate for your third late dinner, the food starts, in the most shameless manner, doing all it can to turn into lots of fat.
Or just starts spoiling — because, you know, it’s night and your intestines need a night break too.
Internet is full of content that just forbids you to do the nighttime munches you love so much. Have you noticed that most of the articles that you read have no links to any scientific researches on the subject?
Here’s something you need to know: not everything they say on the Internet is true.
Sad but true: a great amount of Internet content is just a fruit of hard labor of so many SEO writers, and let’s just say that content credibility is not their main goal.
Let’s hear what science says, shall we?
Yes, naturally, certain processes in our body slow down at night — like salivation or swallowing frequency.
Upper esophageal sphincter pressure reduces, as well as the frequency of esophagus contractions.
But none of these factors allows to conclude that your body just can’t process food that got inside you just before you went to sleep.
As for the gastric emptying, it mostly depends on circadian cycles and not on whether you sleep or not.
In fact, there is some information stating that gastric emptying gets faster during the desynchronized sleep and slower during synchronized sleep.
There is also some data saying that it slows down during both. Some experiments with solid foods show that at night gastric emptying happens faster that during early morning hours.
Secretion of gastric juices is most active during the period between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. , regardless of the fact whether you are sleeping or not.
As of today, there is absolutely no evidence confirming the generally accepted belief that sleep affects gastric juices secretion in a very negative way.
Intestinal motility is even higher at nighttime. And this intestinal motility is what does affect your sleep.
Do you remember feeling sleepy after a good meal (no matter if it’s day meal or night meal)?
It’s one of the ways to inform your brain that your intestines get stretched and start producing cholecystokinin hormone.
There is no interconnection between eating, sleeping and negative changes in the production of hormones that help your digestion, which means that hormones production doesn’t depend on your sleep, but rather on eating and digestion.
And then there’s also factor: your body adapts to recurring patterns. That is, if you have a long-standing habit of having late night munches, your body just adapts to it by creating necessary chains of reactions to make the digestive process go on as planned.
And please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not trying to find excuses for gorging yourself on all kinds of food late at night because science says it’s totally ok now.
I’m all for reasonable control of your diet and eating healthy.
Excess of food, especially junk food, is bad for your health, guys!
What I am saying is just that your digestive system is perfectly able to work both when you are awake and when you are asleep.
And here are the links to some researches on the subject:
- Vaughn BV, Rotolo S, Roth HL. Circadian rhythm and sleep influences on digestive physiology and disorders. ChronoPhysiology and Therapy, Volume 4, Published 2 September 2014 Volume 2014:4 Pages 67—77. DOI. dx.doi.org/10.2147/CPT.S44806.
- Dantas RO1, Aben-Athar CG. [Aspects of sleep effects on the digestive tract]. Arq Gastroenterol. 2002 Jan-Mar;39(1):55-9.**
Thank you for reading.
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