My fellow humans, let’s talk about sleep. We need it! We love it! Sometimes if we forget to set the alarm, we get too much of it. So how does eating breakfast help with your circadian rhythm?
How Breakfast Impacts your Sleep
For a long time now, we, as a people, have focused on what we should be doing before bed to get better sleep.
- Avoid blue screens
- Chamomile tea, or take melatonin
- Don’t consume caffeine late in the day
- Avoid prolonged or irregular napping (not to be confused with coffee naps)
- A laundry list of other supplements!
The habits people don’t think about revolve around what we do when we wake up in the morning. You might not believe it, but what we eat for breakfast can improve sleep at night.
What are the biological clocks?
- There is the central biological clock
- This biological clock synchronizes all the other clocks. It is located in a part of the brain known as the SCN (suprachiasmatic nucleus) – what’s important is knowing we have a built-in clock in our brain
- This clock responds to being exposed to light. To make sure it’s set correctly, guess what? You need light! You need to be up and engaged with that big bright sun of ours! That’s the circadian rhythm.
- There are also the peripheral circadian clocks
- These suckers are everywhere. They are essentially the clocks in the cells of other parts of the body. All your organs – the whole nine!
- They function to tell each cell of the body what it should be doing at different points in the day
- And wouldn’t you know it? Food actually serves as one of the components that activate these peripheral clocks.
See where we’re going with this?
How Zeitgebers Impacts a Good Night’s Sleep
No, I didn’t sneeze. Hang with me. Zeitgebers are the time givers. They help get those biological cues going so we know what time of day it is. Zeitgebers are what informs your body of what time of day it is.
If your body doesn’t know it’s midnight, how is the proper release of hormones at the right time supposed to happen? This can leave you with lousy morning and evening habits.
Let’s face it, most people have s*&t morning habits.
- People sleep in too long
- People have horrible eating habits in the morning
- People don’t eat at all in the morning
Let’s look at the habits that are messing us up throughout the day.
- Intermittent fasting that isn’t lined up with your circadian rhythm
- Unhealthy eating habits around or before sleep
- Sugary processed breakfast foods if we do eat in the morning
Here’s something else to keep in mind. Eating later in the day tends to delay blood sugar rhythms. This can cause your peripheral circadian clock to become desynchronized from the central circadian clock. This means your body’s timing is off for the day, which means the indicators that let you know you should be sleeping won’t be lined up.
Eating breakfast may not directly impact melatonin levels and sleep directly. Still, the act of desynchronizing your clocks can leave you feeling like you have massive jetlag after flying from New York to Tokyo nonstop.
Depriving yourself of food in the morning will also increase your stress levels. Your body needs energy. That’s the basic biology of it if you don’t eat. Fat and lean tissue will be broken down. To break that down, more stress hormones are released like cortisol and adrenalin. Your metabolism is weakest in the morning. That means more stress. That tends to keep you from getting quality rest.
So we have bad sleep habits before bed, bad habits when we start the day, and when we combine these habits, they ultimately prevent us from getting a good night’s sleep.
How Breakfast Makes Sleep Better
Here is what I recommend and why.
- Have healthy protein in the morning. It’ll help get your brain function going correctly. Think of breakfast as being a nice balanced meal that includes healthy options. Make sure it provides you with enough energy to start your day, so you don’t end up on the blood sugar roller coaster ride from hell!
- A fair amount of protein.
- Colorful! That means fruits and veggies.
- Some healthy fats to top it off!
- If you have trouble eating in the morning, or never feel hungry in the morning, start with small food portions. You can even satiate your body with liquids. Coffee packed with collagen and other nutritious ingredients can give your body the right start to the day.
- I highly recommend something like Morning Fix from Strong Coffee Company. This latte is packed with everything you need for a nutritious start to the day.
- If you’re intermittent fasting, change the fasting window. We’ve just accepted that fasting has to happen right when you wake up. That is not the case. To better your sleep, and get the most out of fasting, change the time window. Move the eating window to the start of the day, and avoid eating late into the night.
- Stay away from the highly processed sugary crap in the morning! You’re not doing your body any favors with that.
- Try to avoid anything spicy at least 3 hours before bedtime. It can really mess with your sleep. Heartburn and indigestion are no bueno!
- If you have to eat before bed, complex carbs are your best bet. Whole wheat toast and oatmeal are prime examples. They don’t take long to digest, and they trigger serotonin, which will help you go night-night.
Eating breakfast is crucial to having a good night’s sleep. Eating healthy in the morning sets the pace for your day. It gets your body’s biological clocks synced up so you can keep pace with the circadian rhythm without much thought. That way, the zeitgebers will inform your body of when to release what biological process to make sure you’re getting sleepy at the appropriate times. This will give you better sleep. Better sleep makes you healthier and happier, trust me. Workouts break the body down, but adequate sleep is what builds the body up. You can’t get results without it.