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A Well-Balanced Diet Promotes Better Sleep

A Well-Balanced Diet Promotes Better Sleep

A small study shows better nutrition leads to better ZZZ’s.

It seems like there’s always a new study suggesting more ways we can boost our sleep quality, or different habits and foods that rob us of a restful night’s sleep. The latest sleep study claims that a healthy diet, specifically foods rich in fiber and protein, leads to better sleep, while a diet rich in saturated fats and sugar encourages poor sleep.

Previous studies focused on the ways carbohydrates affect sleep patterns. Do they help you get to sleep faster or give you an energy rush that keeps you awake? This particular study suggests that it’s the type of carb that matters; fiber appears to promote deeper sleep, while sugar and saturated fats are associated with waking up throughout the night.

Researchers monitored the diets and sleeping patterns of 26 study participants, aged 30 to 45, and of average weight. The participants spent five nights in a sleep lab and and had their sleep tracked using polysomnography, a test that records body functions like brain waves, position, breathing rate and eye movement during sleep, each night. What did researchers find? On night three, after having controlled, nutritious meals, they spent only 17 minutes trying to fall asleep; on night five, after choosing what they wanted to eat, took 29 minutes to fall asleep.

The study was small, so researchers admit further investigation into their findings is needed, but a healthy diet, rich in protein and fiber may help you sleep better at night and decrease your risk for chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

If you’re worried you’re not getting enough fiber, legumes, whole-grains, fruits like bananas or apples, and almonds are easy to incorporate into your diet. Try these healthy foods for better ZZZ’s.

Medically reviewed in July 2018.

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