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Why you should reconsider late nights and midnight snacks

Late Night Snacking

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Calah Alexander - published on 09/21/17

So it’s no surprise that a huge disruption like evacuation would have wreaked havoc on my circadian rhythm. Luckily, evacuation isn’t a common occurrence — but there are other daily activities that tweak the circadian rhythm. Researchers are beginning to realize that changes in the circadian rhythm can cause a cascade of negative effects throughout the entire body.

Chronobiology, the science of internal biological clocks, is a growing field of interest for research scientists and doctors. In the past decade, they have discovered that circadian rhythms are not limited to the small clock in the hypothalamus — in fact, nearly every organ in the body has an internal clock. The pancreas has one that tells it when to release insulin. The liver has one that tells it when to process fat and when to process glycogen. Even the eyes have one that tells them when to begin repairing UV damage.

These discoveries have huge implications for us that go way beyond the dangers of blue light. For years, doctors have warned us not to eat late at night because your metabolism is slower, but what they now understand is that food doesn’t just get processed more slowly at night — it doesn’t get processed the right way at all. Your pancreas and liver have shifted out of daytime-processing mode and into nighttime-repair mode, and overloading them with food (especially fatty and sugary food) causes the risk for obesity and liver damage to soar.

Although the study of chronobiology is still in its infancy, these discoveries are already enough to make me rethink that late-night pre-bedtime glass of wine or bowl of ice cream. And it’s definitely enough to convince me to never, ever again make a 24-hour drive without stopping for the night.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go take a nap.

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Health and Wellness
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