The practice of intermittent fasting has been in the limelight recently due to the keto diet trend and has been touted across social media as an easy way to burn fat, lose weight and boost energy.
But fasting isn’t that new or revolutionary. In fact, it has been practised around the world by ascetics and religious lay people for centuries, particularly, by Muslims during Ramadan, who fast during daytime hours for one month a year.
Apart from its fat burning or spiritual benefits, though, there is some evidence to suggest that fasting can affect sleep and can even reset one’s circadian clock by reversing one’s natural waking hours. While there is much to be learned in this area and scientists don’t fully understand how sleep and fasting are connected, there has been some interesting research in this area. Keep reading to learn more about some of these findings.
Fasting, Sleep And The Body’s Internal Clocks
You’ve probably heard of circadian rhythm, the internal clock in our body that tells us when to sleep and when to get up. But science tells us that the body actually has two clocks, your central clock, which is located in the brain and responds to external signals, like daylight and temperature, and your peripheral clock, found in every cell outside the brain and affected by feeding and fasting.
These two clocks work in synchronicity with one another and any long-term disruption between the two can affect your health and/or energy level.
Further to these findings, the same research showed that eating at “proper” daylight times can help prevent disease and prior studies have shown that women who work shift work and have an erratic sleep/eat schedule have a higher risk of cancer.
Dr. Ueli Schibler at the University of Geneva summarizes these findings by explaining that it, “seems pretty clear that the long-term disruption of circadian rhythms is pretty harmful.”