I just finished reading a blog about many people needing to eat at night. I wanted to express my thoughts to help create more of an understanding to help people overcome this growing problem. There is a natural order between day and night. Under normal circumstances we eat and are physically active during the day. At night we settle down and while we sleep we use the food we ate during the day to clean, maintain and repair our bodies. After rising in the morning, we eliminate the physical and energetic excess gathered during the night through our morning routine of stretching, washing, urination and bowel movement, etc. Then, we are fully ready for the day.
We can have the best activity during the day while the sun is up and the deepest and most refreshing sleep during the night when the stars are out. Our digestive system is not on-call 24 hours a day as we would like. It is only fully ready to receive nourishment at certain times. These times have come to be know as meal times, breakfast, lunch and dinner. When we eat at regular meal times our digestion is quick and efficient. For example, if you start eating your dinner at 5 pm you digest your meal very quickly. The same meal takes a little longer to digest if eaten at 6 or 7 pm. If we start dinner at 8 or 9 pm it takes even longer to digest. When we eat in between meals as in brunch, it has the opposite effect and actually stagnates our digestion. The purpose of brunch is to be able to lounge around all day and accomplish very little. When we get up early and have a simple breakfast we are ready to be active and accomplish something. It is not very easy to lounge around.
This concept may make more sense when we look at it from the sleep perspective. If you sleep for six hours from midnight until 6 am, you can accomplish a lot even if you may want a little more sleep. However, if you sleep six hours from 3 am to 9 am you do not get the same restful and replenishing sleep. You wake up feeling groggy and do not feel motivated to accomplish much. The time you sleep determines the quality of your sleep in the same way the time you start you meals determines how well you digest and feel satisfied from your food.
Our blood sugar follows the sun’s movement. After noon, our blood sugar starts to gradually fall so that we can settle down in the evening and go to sleep before midnight. After midnight our blood sugar stars to gradually rise so that we can get up quickly and easily in the early morning. Eating our meals at the proper times helps to regulate and stabilize our blood sugar. Lunch is the controlling factor. It is important to start eating you lunch no later than 1 pm to stabilize your blood sugar.
When we eat grain, bean and vegetable based meals at the recommended times, we do not want to eat before bed or at night when we should be sleeping. When we eat two or three satisfying meals at the proper times we do not desire to eat after dinner because this late night eating makes us feel worse and not better. When we eat chaotically or eat unhealthy foods at the wrong times our blood sugar looses it’s natural balance. If our blood sugar is too low or too high, we cannot fall asleep easily. If our blood sugar is too low when we are sleeping, we need to wake up and eat to raise our blood sugar enough to sleep.
These ideas are tried and true and are based on my approach to macrobiotics. One of the most common comments I hear from my clients is how well they have been sleeping and how easily they get up in the morning after implementing my recommendations.