Meal time the source of a good night’s sleep

Tucking into your meals within a 10-hour window could help you get a good night’s sleep, according to new research.

Dr. Satchidananda Panda, a circadian biologist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, suggests there is a link between the time between meals and how many Zs you’re getting.

“We’ve found that when we eat may be as important as what and how much we eat,” Dr. Panda said. “In fact, our work suggests that these benefits can be gained even when you don’t change what you eat, as long as it’s in a limited time period.”

Dr. Panda’s research, conducted over the past decade, has found limiting the hours over which you eat can improve your circadian rhythm, the 24-hour clock that controls almost every process in your body – including the sleep-wake cycle.

Additionally, the circadian rhythm has been shown to affect hormonal balance, gut health, endurance exercise capacity, blood glucose control, as well as general health.

While originally tested on mice, Dr. Panda’s time-restricted eating (TRE) showed similar results in human test subjects.

“Our research shows that when we tap into our circadian rhythm we can use it to maximise our wellbeing, minimise our waistline and enjoy a deeper slumber,” Dr. Panda said.

The genes, molecules and cells of subjects were examined during the research, with the results showing mice that ate within an 8-12 hour period remained slimmer and healthier than those who ate the same amount over a longer period.

With most adults eating within a 15-hour window, Dr. Panda encourages limiting this window to 12 hours, or even 10 hours, between your first and last calories of the day.

“Try to be in bed for 7-8 hours, and avoid food for at least an hour after waking up and 2-3 hours before going to bed,” Dr. Panda explained. “Medications and water can be consumed outside this window and occasionally one can eat outside this window once or twice a week.”

Put the program to the test

With inadequate sleep affecting up to nearly half of Australians, according to a 2016 survey from the Sleep Health Foundation, and 48% of respondents in a Canstar Blue survey stating they had purchased a mattress in an effort to help with a sleeping problem, switching your meal times might be the way to go for when counting sheep doesn’t work.

“You’ll find it profoundly helps improve the quality of your sleep, increases energy, reduces some weight, reduce acid reflux and help prevent or better manage metabolic diseases,” claims Dr. Panda.

To help assess and adopt the TRE regime, Dr. Panda has created a free 14-day program for consumers to trial, with an app also available to help you find the key to a deep sleep.

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