Has eating in the evening been linked to low quality sleep?
Should I eat a large breakfast or lunch and skip dinner?
If I take all my calories before noon, will that lead to better sleep at night?
Are there other reasons large dinners might not be healthy?
The Brits are known for their big breakfasts; the French known for their large lunches; the Americans for their large dinners. Which population is healthiest, and does that have anything at all to do with mealTIMES? Which other cultures mealtimes might help guide us?
I've noticed that if I eat anything salty in the evening I don't sleep well, so maybe that's support for avoiding evening meals?
I don't eat sugar, so that couldn't be a factor for me, would it be for you?
I am not asking for a dogma that must necessarily apply to all individuals, I am just looking to learn from what others have experienced with eating at different times.<<
What works for me is to stop eating around 5 or 6 pm.
I eat a normal-sized breakfast and lunch and a tiny dinner.
I also take ~350 mg of Mag Citrate about 1/2 hour before bed.
I eat a big breakfast and a big lunch, no dinner. I find that I sleep better and feel more rested when I wake up - hungry. My paleo-friendly doc was much enthused and says that it will benefit the production of hormones at night.
I'm not an authority by any means but I can share my experiences.
Growing up in a traditional society, we ate dinner at 5 PM at the latest. We might have a black tea after dinner / before bed but that was it.
Now eating paleo I sleep the best when I eat a large breakfast after waking up, and a small lunch (7 am and 1 pm). I don't sleep as well if I eat later in the day (if I eat dinner it would be about 7 pm which is way too late!) I'm not hungry when I go to sleep, but having a light belly makes me sleep better.
But back home, we had the biggest meal at dinner (5pm; but we went to sleep 10-11pm)
Probably more important than what time you eat, is that you eat easily digestible foods with each meal such as fermented foods and bone broths.
My sleep has been all over the place since I started eating paleo/primal, but I think I finally have it figured out, making a series of changes that has now resulted in regular solid 8 hour sleep for me.
I have always had occasional insomnia: I would fall asleep easily at 9:30, but wake up between 1:00 and 3:00 am and lie awake for two hours before falling back to sleep. When I first changed to this diet from WAPF, I tried keeping carbs at 50/day while also trying to IF, not having breakfast until at least 10:00, often noon. During this period, I started having trouble getting to sleep in the first place, something that had never happened before.
At this time, I took Dragonfly's (and many other people's) recommendation to take magnesium at night and that definitely helped. I fell asleep more easily, but would still wake up sometime in the night. I then added Vitamin D3/K2 in the morning per another person's (again, maybe Dragonfly) recommendation and started eating more like 100-120 carbs/day and sleep was better...I could fall asleep easily again. I also install flux on my Macbook since sadly, I am usually on it just before bed.
The latest change I have made which has made a noticable difference is I gave up waiting so long to eat breakfast after reading here about manipulating one's cortisol rhythm by eating closer to when you get up. The idea is that you make it higher first thing in the morning, so that by nighttime, it is naturally lower and doesn't interfere with your sleep. This has definitely worked for me. I love the idea of IF and I always workout faster at 6:30 am, but for me, having an early breakfast has seemed like the missing piece in this on-going sleep-puzzle. At first it was hard, because my body didn't want to eat anything before at least 10:00 am, but after a few days, I do get hunger signals at 8:00.
I'll just throw one other random thing into the mix....I also started doing 1000 Kegels/day (I have a long commute and am in general, an exercise freak). I have read that this might help suppress the feeling that you have to pee, which is always why I ever woke up.
It feels so good to have this figured out! I am 48, and we are always told that sleep will just get worse as one ages. I am happy to say that for me, and thanks to all these wonderful ideas from my fellow Paleohackers, it just isn't true.
The optimal composition of meals depends on your lifestyle, not mine or anyone else's. For instance, on some days, I fast 16 hours between dinner and the next meal. Today, I ate 75g of sweet potato at 9:00AM. The difference is that today, I lifted weights and knew that the carbs would replenish my glycogen instead of being stored as adipose tissue. Tonight, I'll have eggs for my dinner protein, (I haven't eaten eggs in almost a week), because I want the choline in them.
There cannot be any one answer to this question, because not only are we all unique biochemically, our dietary needs change occasionally. Pay attention to the demands of your lifestyle, and vary your meals accordingly.