Is Your Eating Schedule Affected by Your Sleep Schedule

sleep weight management Nov 02, 2022

Katie Breazeale, MS, RD, LD


It is almost daylight’s savings time! I love falling back, getting that extra hour of sleep that night, and it is darker sooner which I love the most! I have two small children so when it is darker at bedtime they go to sleep faster. If I am feeling particularly crafty, I might even put them to bed a little earlier because it is already dark!


I don’t love the feeling of being off though. You know what I mean. Adjusting to the time change for getting up and going to bed and mealtimes. Everything feels off the first few weeks.


It is darker in the morning and the evenings. I notice it is harder to get out of bed, plus in my mind I am thinking it is an hour earlier than I normally get up. I will admit this makes for a rough start. That extra bit of tiredness does not help my eating habits. In "Sleep and Setting the Mood" we talked about how sleep affects your metabolism and the choices you make for food when you feel tired? I will give you the mini recap. When we are tired we tend to crave food that is high carb and/or high fat.


Try to control the crazy cravings from the sleep disruption. Cravings will pass since they are not true hunger. Stick to your meals you have planned and prepare snacks to take to work or school. 


A sleep schedule that’s not aligned with your internal clock can throw your cortisol rhythm off-course. Hello time change. When your sleep schedule is out of rhythm it can cause an increase in your cortisol production. What does this mean for appetite? It makes us hungrier!


If you are getting up feeling more tired and you are an athlete, how do you think it will affect your performance? It could be a rough few weeks till you adapt! Your concentration, memory, strength, and endurance could all be affected from this forced change in your sleep cycle. Now add in the munchies and cravings. This time change could wreak havoc on your routine. Plan ahead by going to bed earlier and packing up a few extra snacks just in case.    


Does anyone find it difficult to eat at their regular mealtimes with the time change? My body still thinks it’s earlier than it is and tries to eat more later. The good news is I can train myself to adapt to these new times. Stomach hunger is learned hunger from setting mealtimes and being consistent. My body can learn the new meal time. Whether that is snacking during the day or at night. Our hunger hormones are affected when we have a disrupted sleep cycle. Ghrelin is increased aka feed me more and leptin is reduced aka feed me less. 


If you are getting the time change munchies try to opt in for snacks that are satisfying and will keep you full longer. Homemade trail mix, beef jerky, peanut butter crackers, Greek yogurt, or cottage cheese and fruit are a few options to consider.


Are you ready for the time change? Plan for what you may need to do during the time change. Do you need to go to bed earlier or get some snack ideas because you have noticed you’re getting the munchies while at work? You don’t want to run out of time to get ready!  


Set your self up for success and use these 5 Ways to Help Your Sleep Cycle/Eating Habits while you adjust to the time change.

  1. Stick to your regularly scheduled mealtimes.

  2. Get some sun. Did you know going out and getting a little sun helps your body reset its natural rhythm. The sunlight is telling your body it needs to be awake.

  3. Start going to bed 20-30 minutes earlier so it is not such a shock to your body when the time changes.

  4. Restrict caffeine to the AM.

  5. Practice good sleep hygiene.

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