Is late night snacking healthy for you?
Eating late at night - a large dinner or something small to snack on while watching your favorite television program - may help you fall asleep but can affect your overall metabolism and ultimately create stress inside the body.
During the dark hours of the night, a hormone called norepinephrine is released. It tells the brain to make melatonin. Think of melatonin as the chemical that dominates sleep cycles. A couple of things need to be in place for the production of melatonin.
Eating late at night will initially raise your blood sugar. While sleeping, your body goes into a light fast. If you eat before sleeping, you are more likely to experience a crash in blood sugar while asleep.
The mechanism goes like this:
Skipping meals or frequently eating foods that are starchy or sugary cause blood sugar spikes, and both lead to the same thing: adrenal exhaustion. What’s interesting is that people who skip meals will often use adrenal stimulants or excessively sugary foods to get a quick lift of energy.
This blood sugar yo-yo effect in the body will pull on the adrenal glands for cortisol. This pulling on the adrenal glands does something else in the body. Eventually, it will exhaust other elements of the endocrine system. The endocrine system is the system in charge of regulating hormones in the body.
Sleep is an activity that is all about relaxation and restoration. Thus, cortisol, the stress hormone, should be at its lowest at night. When blood sugar crashes in the middle of the night, cortisol levels rise, and melatonin production diminishes.
No, supplementing with melatonin is not recommended. Short-term, emergency use may be tolerated. But keep in mind that ultimately you want your body to remember its own natural ebb and flow of hormones. Melatonin is a hormone and giving your body this hormone over time will actually lead to a deeper and more pathological imbalance.
Most people do well with magnesium supplementation, and it is best to try magnesium first before using melatonin. Magnesium does have a laxative effect, so keep this in mind if you decide to use it as a sleep aid. A full-spectrum mineral supplement, like Body Ecology Ancient Earth Minerals, is another good way to not only restore levels of magnesium in the body but to also bring the body fully into mineral balance.
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