If you are suffering from sleep problems, a little change in diet can make a big difference.
Researchers have found that a diet rich in fibre but low in saturated fat and sugar can help you get a good night’s sleep.
Eating less fibre, more saturated fat and more sugar is associated with lighter, less restorative, and more disrupted sleep, the findings showed.
“Our main finding was that diet quality influenced sleep quality,” said principal investigator Marie-Pierre St-Onge, assistant professor at the Columbia University Medical Centre in New York.
“It was most surprising that a single day of greater fat intake and lower fibre could influence sleep parameters,” St-Onge said.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, involved 26 adults – 13 men and 13 women – who had normal weight and an average age of 35 years.
Results showed that greater fibre intake led to more time spent in the stage of deep, slow wave sleep. In contrast, a higher percentage of energy from saturated fat led to less slow wave sleep.
Greater sugar intake was also associated with more arousals from sleep.
The researchers also found that participants fell asleep faster after eating fixed meals provided by a nutritionist, which were lower in saturated fat and higher in protein than self-selected meals.
It took participants an average of 29 minutes to fall asleep after consuming foods and beverages of their choice, but only 17 minutes to fall asleep after eating controlled meals.
“The finding that diet can influence sleep has tremendous health implications, given the increasing recognition of the role of sleep in the development of chronic disorders such as hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” St-Onge pointed out.