How that midnight snack affects your health

This week, we’ve talked about the health-preserving power of getting enough sleep AND finding the “perfect” bedtime. 

So, today, let’s talk about the power of a well-timed meal.   

Because the fact is, body clock disruptions aren’t always controllable. Just ask any night-shift worker how hard it can be to stay healthy and rested when you have to punch in while the rest of the world sleeps. 

In fact, studies show that shift workers face a higher risk of a whole host of conditions, from diabetes and obesity to heart disease and cancer.  

But according to a recent study, dodging some of these risks could be as simple as minding your mealtimes… 

Skip the midnight snacks  

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded this latest research—a small clinical trial featuring 19 healthy, young subjects. Researchers randomly assigned each subject to a two-week controlled lab protocol featuring different meal schedules.  

One group’s schedule mimicked the conditions of night work, with meals during the nighttime. The other group ate during the day. Researchers then looked at the effects of both on the subjects’ circadian rhythms.  

Turns out, nighttime meals boosted blood sugar levels. In fact, this group saw their average glucose rise by 6.4 percent during simulated night work. The group who ate during the day, on the other hand, didn’t suffer this effect at all.   

In other words, it appears that you can combat at least one dangerous side effect of circadian disruption by keeping your mealtimes on a normal schedule, even if you have to work through the night. 

And this isn’t the first study to show that eating your meals earlier has the potential to prevent disease, either…   

Cut your risk of cancer 

As part of a similar study published back in 2018, researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health reviewed data from more than 600 men with prostate cancer and more than 1,200 women with breast cancer—compared with more than 2,000 randomly selected participants. 

Researchers interviewed all subjects about the timing of their meals, their sleep habits, and their chronotypes (an individual’s personal biological clock, which determines whether you’re a morning person or a night owl).  

And ultimately, results from both groups suggested that leaving two hours between dinnertime and bedtime—or simply eating dinner before 9 p.m.—could literally save your life. 

Either precaution correlated with a 20 percent lower risk of breast or prostate cancer—a dramatic advantage over people who ate after 10 p.m., or who hit the sheets right after scarfing down dinner. 

The bottom line? It always pays to stick to a schedule. And that’s especially true where sleeping and eating are concerned. So even if you’re working through the night, make a schedule and stick to it. Your body clock will thank you for it. 

For more insight into how your body clock affects your health, check out the November issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“STOP depression with this “one-hour” trick!”). Not yet a subscriber? Click here to become one! 


“Daytime meals may reduce health risks linked to night shift work.” Science Daily, 12/03/2021. (