The important connection between consistent mealtimes and healthier sleep
Did you know that creating a consistent mealtime schedule can improve the quality of your sleep?
Your appetite and metabolism are an important part of your circadian rhythm—your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. In fact, your body’s food clock and sleep clock are closely linked and your meals and mealtimes can have a big impact on your overall sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation’s 2022 Sleep in America® Poll shows that having consistent mealtimes is significantly associated with healthier sleep.
Among those surveyed, people who said they eat their meals at the same time every day had better sleep health than those with more inconsistent meal schedules.
Those with consistent meal schedules were also 14 percent more likely to report lower stress levels—which is widely known to have a positive effect on sleep and health.
Assess Your Meal Timing
Only 59 percent of Americans eat all meals at around the same time—which means that 4 in 10 Americans could be improving their sleep just by eating meals more consistently.
If you’re not maintaining a consistent meal schedule, there’s a good chance you’re also not getting the kind of sleep you want.
Just by making consistent meals part of your routine, you can set yourself up to get the sleep you want and need.
Get Your Body Clock on Track with Meal Timing
Eating when your body expects you to eat is an important part of your sleep health—by encouraging healthy sleep patterns.
Like opening the blinds and letting light shine in your window each morning, food can help your body know it’s time to wake up.
Making breakfast part of your regular schedule helps jumpstart your day and lets your body know it’s time to be awake.
Don’t Let Eating Confuse Your Sleep Clock
Eating your meals at different times each day can confuse your body’s clock, making it harder to maintain regular sleep and wake schedules.
This is especially true for nighttime—so you may want to think twice before you make a late-night dinner reservation or reach for a midnight snack.
Eating a light dinner 2-3 hours before bedtime helps your body slowly ease into sleep mode. Heavy meals at night, as well as that tempting nightcap, can both disrupt your sleep.
Just as suddenly switching on a bright light in a dark room can alert and even startle you, eating dinner late into the evening tells your body it’s in awake mode. This makes it harder for your body to get into sleep mode.
Healthier sleep is rooted in a healthy routine—and that certainly includes what and when you eat. Eating your meals at a consistent time each day is a smart and simple way to get on your way to being your Best Slept SelfTM.