Nurses, doctors and cashiersThe waiting staff, security guards and many other people are familiar with the shift at the cemetery. It can be difficult to adjust to a work schedule from sunset to sunrise when it conflicts with the body’s instinct for sleep, let alone a night that may be lonely.
There are also some health risks that come with throwing out the body’s circadian rhythm. These include physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral changes that operate over a 24-hour period and respond to natural cues such as light. In fact, night shift workers have, on average, a 25 to 40 percent higher risk for anxiety and depression.
The number of people doing shift work is not minimal. according to 2020 review in the magazine Current psychiatric reports, about 25 percent of the workforce does some shift work. This leaves a large segment of the population particularly vulnerable to poor emotional wellness.
Part of how the body regulates itself in this 24-hour cycle is through meal times. Eating regular meals at certain hours of the day can help harmonize the day, and improve or maintain one’s emotional state. However, someone in the cemetery shift may be eating in the middle of the night, when the body thinks they should be asleep and digesting.
a A small study published last week In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences I looked at how eating habits affect emotional well-being. Understanding this connection can help researchers find ways to meet our biological needs and protect our emotional and mental health.
science in action – A team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston recruited 19 healthy participants. Before the study began, subjects regulated themselves by eight hours in bed at the same time each day for two weeks. In the three days preceding the experiment, all participants received three meals a day and one snack.
Then came forced desynchronization.
Each participant lived alone in a private, dimly lit environment devoid of time signals. During this period, they went through four 28-hour cycles so that on the fourth day they would be 12 hours behind their circadian rhythm. Both groups followed a sleep and rest schedule that included fixed meal times. In this aspect, the participants were divided into two groups. One group received meals during the day and at night, while the other group ate meals during the day only. Both groups did certain work at night to simulate a night shift.
Once per hour over these four days, the researchers assessed any manifestations of anxiety or depression in the participants using a method called computerized visual analog scales. This method asked participants to rate their emotional state by identifying an area on a spectrum between two opposing feelings, such as sad and happy or excited and calm. Depression- and anxiety-like behaviors and moods arose from how participants rated themselves in this continuum.
To the researchers’ surprise, the group that ate during the day showed lower levels of anxiety and depression than the group that ate during the day and at night.
Why hack – Sleep is often the preoccupation of night shift workers as a way to break the body’s natural rhythm. But there is ample evidence that the hours we choose for meals are just as important.
“Meal timing is emerging as an important aspect of nutrition that may affect physical health,” Sarah Shelapaco-author of the paper, writes to inverse. “However, the causal role of eating timing on the mental health of real-life shift workers remains to be tested.”
According to this paper, several biological mechanisms operate behind why meal time affects emotional state. High blood sugar, for one thing, is a risk factor for depression. The gut microbiome also influences mental health, and the gut microbiome is sensitive to serotonin regulation, inflammation, and stress. Daily turmoil messes with these little capitals. Staying up all night and sleeping during the day may be inevitable, but keeping meal times only in daylight hours can help prevent further depression.
How does it affect longevity – It is well known at this point that emotional well-being is as important as physical well-being. But of course we will repeat it again.
BREAK POINTS 10 – 🍝🍜🍲🍛🍱 (5/10 meals eaten during the day)