A growing research organization has revealed that there may be an easy way to improve sleep by taking care of what we eat.
Although caffeinated beverages and foods have long been known to stimulate and disrupt sleep, it appears that certain food groups – including fruits, vegetables and certain types of bread – can have the opposite effect.
This finding is based on a recent review of studies published in the Annual Review of Nutrition.
“Mary-Pierre Saint-Ong, an associate professor of nutrition at Columbia University in New York, found that eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, as well as legumes and whole grain breads, was associated with better sleep,” said Good Health, one of the authors of the article.
It was reviewed based on other findings, including a study published in Nutrition in 400 women by 2020, which found that the more they adhere to a Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and lean protein, the more likely they are to fall asleep.
The study was self-reported, meaning women record their diet and sleep, but other scientists have found similar results.
In fact, after their own study, researchers at the University of Leeds, writing at the BMJ Open in 2018, believed that the link between diet and sleep was so strong that it could “have major impacts on lifestyle and policy change behavior.”
In this study 1,612 adults had to write down their sleep patterns and their fruit and vegetable intake in four days. Also, those who slept less than seven hours ate 24 grams less fruits and vegetables than those who slept seven to eight hours.
Also, while a healthy diet can benefit sleep, Dr. Previous research by St. Ong and his team suggests that eating too much saturated fat and sugar can make her sad.
In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 26 volunteers underwent polysomnography over five nights, with sophisticated monitoring equipment used to record brain waves and other vital signs that can determine the quality and amount of sleep.
This type of analysis can, for example, determine how long people have been in deep sleep and how often they have woken up.
“The advantage of this study is that we controlled their diet so we knew exactly what they were eating,” says Saint-Ong. “So for the first four days they had a healthy diet, saturated fat and the recommended amount of fiber. Sodium and salt, by the fifth day, they were done: they chose what they were eating – and then we saw that they were eating more saturated fat, salt and sugar.”
When the team examined the sleeping habits of the group, they found some surprising differences.
“On the fifth day, they took twice as much time to sleep – 12 minutes longer – than in the previous days. They spent less time in deep sleep, which is a very restorative state of sleep,” Ong said.
This occurs when the brain waves slow down and allow the pituitary gland cells to retain memories, releasing growth hormone needed for regeneration. The study found that volunteers received 24 minutes of deep sleep on the fifth night, while 29 minutes on the days when they ate the best food.
“It’s 15% less, which is a huge number,” Ong says. From there, I looked at the specific foods they ate and their effects, and was able to identify three main food groups that had a significant impact.
“Volunteers who ate more fiber spent less time in light sleep and more time in deep sleep. Eating more saturated fat was associated with shorter wavelength sleep. They had more excitement that night because they had more sugar,” he added. In diabetes, it leads to unstable blood sugar levels, which interferes with sleep.
An earlier study, published in PLoS ONE in 2015, found that although 63 people were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the cause was unknown, and poor glycemic control was associated with poor sleep.
While sugar can be harmful to sleep, “plant foods contain many ingredients that can be combined with better sleep,” says Ong.
Research has shown that people who eat high-fiber legumes – legumes and chickpeas – have better “sleep ability” (in other words, the time you already spend in bed while sleeping).
Ong suggests that when it comes to the Mediterranean diet in general, the benefits of sleep can be derived from tryptophan – an amino acid that the body uses to produce the hormone melatonin (although it cannot produce it on its own). Serotonin, which acts as a mood stabilizer and plays a role in sleep.
However, for tryptophan to take effect, tryptophan (e.g., found in turkey, fish, bananas and seeds) must cross the blood-brain barrier, which must cross the semi-permeable cell wall that protects the brain from toxins.
To overcome it, tryptophan synthesizes a “transporter” protein – but can be pushed by other amino acids waiting to cross it. At least one study concluded that “it controls the level of serotonin that can be synthesized.”
“In the case of melatonin, your body is very good at producing it,” says Kevin Morgan, a psychology professor at the University of Lafarge, who has spent most of his life researching sleep. “Sit in the bright light in the morning. Start producing everything you need.”
Catherine Collins, an NHS dietitian, believes there is still not enough evidence to suggest a single diet or nutrition as a way to improve sleep.
“The golden quality of the Mediterranean diet is no doubt about it,” he says. “However, so far studies have not included enough individuals and it has not been done for a long time to confirm that some of its components help with sleep.”
But the fact that this diet has anti-inflammatory effects “means that it is beneficial to health in other ways, such as those with arthritis.
He also says that it is beneficial to make you feel full for a long time.
However, St. Ong believes his research is promising, “If we can find ways to improve the health of the population, I think it’s worth pursuing.” As for her sleep? “I already have a healthy diet,” he says. “But when I wake up saying ‘it’s an exceptionally good sleep’, I try to consider what I did. We often notice bad sleep. But it can help.” In a more positive attitude.
Source: Daily Mail
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