When I hear about curfews, dark times come to my mind, times of war. Actually we have been fighting a war against Covid since March this year. There are no bombs, we don’t have to be evacuated, we can eat every day because there are enough food supplies. But the curfew has changed our habits, most probably also those related to meal times.
From North to South of Europe we eat at different times. Soon in the north, later in the south. Maybe you are invited to dinner by someone and the curfew forces you to eat earlier because then you have to go home. Or you eat later because you finish work late and don’t have time to buy something for dinner, or to stop by in a restaurant. The restaurants are closed, they only offer take-away service and you must go back home within the time set by the curfew.
A friend from Paris, before the city was put into total lockdown, had to return home by 9 p.m. We know that Paris is a big city and people often use public transport, which is very efficient. To be home by 9 p.m., she had to take the subway by 8:30 pm at the latest and therefore she was eating later than her previous habits. And she began to sleep badly.
If you make an appointment before the curfew begins, you may feel stressed out because you will have to rush to get home on time. Perhaps it would be better to stay at home and respect the government’s directions and limit our social contacts. But sometimes you want to be out for a while, to meet some friends.
The effects of the curfew are not only on your social life, but also on your health as a result of adapting to a new pace of life and changing your routine.
The new schedule imposed by the curfew may have advantages, for example, you stop working earlier, go home earlier and have dinner earlier. For example, you arrive home at 7 p.m., have dinner between 8 p.m. and 8.30 p.m., go to bed around 11 p.m. and get up at 7 a.m. the next day.
This would be optimal for your health. Indeed, you would better synchronize with your internal, external environmental and external social biological clocks (time).
Internal time is what marks your endogenous rhythm, which helps you sleep at night, stay awake during the day and eat at the right time for you.
External environmental time is determined by the alternation of the phases of light and dark generated by the solar cycle.
External social time can alter these balances. If your working schedule, lunch, dinner and leisure are not suitable to your biological type (chronotype) you could enter a phase of temporal disruption that may cause several health problems, like insomnia.
Our ancestors got up with the light and went to sleep with the dark. This rhythm allowed for adequate production of melatonin (the hormone that regulates sleep), which allowed for a perfect balance between internal time and external time.
The habit of eating around 9:30 p.m. or even later goes against these natural cycles and makes it more difficult to rest well. A large dinner ending around midnight could cause difficult digestion at a time when the body should be resting instead.
It is therefore recommended to finish dinner at least two hours before going to bed to avoid poor quality sleep and an awakening marked by fatigue, irritability and low cognitive performance.
If you follow the biological rhythm of your body, you will have a big improvement in your overall health!