Dec. 13, 2021 -- Eating during the daytime may help nightshift workers avoid a disruption of their body clock and help regulate blood sugar levels, a recently published study suggests.

The small study involved 19 healthy young adults who spent 14 days in a laboratory that included a simulated night shift. One group ate during the nighttime, while the other group ate between 7 am and 7 pm. Both groups ate the same three meals and snack.

Those who ate during the daytime hours experienced no change in their body clock and no change to their blood sugar levels while those eating at night had increased blood sugar levels of up to 6.4% from baseline.

The study was published Dec. 3 in Science Advances.

This suggests eating at night caused disruptions between the body’s central clock and its sleep/wake, light/dark, and fasting/eating cycles, which influence peripheral body clocks such as those in the liver, says Frank A.J.L. Scheer, PhD, director of the Medical Chronobiology Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, saidin a press release.

This study demonstrates how night-shift workers can use mealtimes to avoid the effects of impaired blood sugar and disruptions in body clock rhythms, Scheer said.

"Night-shift workers often reschedule their meal intake to the nighttime, as they are awake during those hours," co-corresponding and lead author Sarah L. Chellappa, MD, PhD, said.

"This study reinforces the notion that when you eat matters for determining health outcomes such as blood sugar levels, which are relevant for night workers as they typically eat at night while on shift,” said Chellappa, a researcher who previously worked with Scheer and is currently working in the nuclear medicine department at the University of Cologne in Germany.