I don’t know about you, but I need all the help I can get to stay focused during these long summer days.
After all, it’s hard to keep your head down when your mind is still stuck at the beach—or planning your next vacation.
So when I came across a recent study on how something as common as nighttime snacking could be sabotaging your daytime focus and productivity? Well, I had to take a closer look…
You pay the next day
Researchers recruited nearly 100 full-time American employees to answer questions three times a day for ten days.
Before work, the subjects answered questions about their physical and emotional wellbeing.
At the end of work, they answered questions about what they did each day.
And before bed, they answered questions about their eating and drinking behaviors for the evening.
This study defined “unhealthy” eating in a pretty basic way. Participants would report that they’d eaten too much junk food, overate or overdrank, or had too many late-night snacks.
Not surprisingly, when people engaged in these behaviors, they were also more likely to report problems like headaches, stomachaches, and diarrhea in the morning. But that’s not all.
Subjects who reported unhealthy eating habits in the evening were also more likely to report emotional upset in the morning—such as shame and guilt over the previous night’s indulgences.
And both types of strain—physical and emotional—had an impact on workplace behavior during the day. When people reported either, they were less likely to engage in “helping” behavior—and more likely to engage in “withdrawal” behavior.
Strains at home, strains on the job
In this context, helping means exactly that: Going the extra mile and helping colleagues, even when it’s outside of your job description or typical responsibility. Withdrawal, on the other hand, refers to avoiding work despite being “on the job”.
In addition, researchers found that emotionally stable people who were better able to cope with stress were less likely to be affected by the strains of unhealthy eating—and when they did experience these strains, they were less likely to see their workplace behavior suffer for it.
Of course, this study focused specifically on evening eating habits. And the researchers didn’t investigate how specific dietary factors—like sugar or caffeine content—might have an impact.
But at the end of the day (pardon the pun), the fact remains that you should be limiting evening eating anyway. And midnight snacking? Well, that’s about the worst thing you could do for your health.
That’s because, just like sleep, your body needs its meals in accordance with circadian rhythms… or your health will ultimately suffer the consequences.
The earlier in the day you drop your fork, and the longer you go before you pick it back up the next day, the better—for weight loss, inflammation reduction, and more.
So nix the midnight snacks. Your health and loved ones—even your boss and co-workers—will thank you for it.
“Late night snacks may hurt your workplace performance, study finds.” Science Daily, 04/07/2021. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210407135755.htm)