Your brain's natural tendencies don't easily accommodate international flights, all-nighters or rotating shift work. Refusing to eat for about 16 hours before waking up, however, can help reboot your sleep cycle.
Photo by arvindgrover.
Harvard researcher Clifford Saper explains that one's body has more than just a single clock dictating some magical eight-hour sleep period. Sleep needs are regulated in part by exposure to light, but also by food intake. By fasting for 16 hours before your breakfast in a new time zone or on a new sleep/wake schedule, or perhaps after some really rough sleep nights, one can "override" the body's other sleep clocks that have a really aggravating way of demanding obedience. The Wise Bread blog suggests 12 hours might be a decent compromise if you can't hold off for 16 hours, though Saper seems to suggest 16 is the magic number.
Saper explains more about the power of not eating on your sleep cycle in this interview clip:
If you've got your own first-hand research on the relationship of food and sleep changes, or you've got evidence that Saper's method works as suggested, let us know in the comments.
How to beat jet lag: Don't eat [The Globe and Mail via