Our Diet Absolutely Affects Our Sleep

A new study from Columbia University Medical Center, that diet can make an immediate difference in the quality of our sleep. Those of us whose diets were low on fiber and higher on fat are likely to sleep worse than the night when we ate healthier. 


This research was conducted in sleep lab. If the results were applicable to us when we are at home and there is a good chance that they are. It might be wise not eat fatty foods before we hit the sack.


26 people participated in the study. They spent 5 nights at the sleep lab. The initial three days they ate a diet high fiber and low in saturated fat designed by a nutritionist, on the last day of the study they could eat meals of their choice (high in sugar, saturated fats and low on fiber). A polysomnography tracked their sleep for all days.


On days the participant ate the nutritionist designed meals they fell asleep in 17 minutes compared to 29 minutes of the diet of their own choosing. The less healthy meals were also linked to more tossing and turning (disrupted sleep).


The author of the study says if diet can affect sleep in such a drastic manner over such a short period. Given the connections between sleep issues, diet and chronic illness the results of the study could help us.


"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," said study author Marie-Pierre St-Onge.


Lack of sleep increases your appetite


When sleep less you end up eating more the next day. Not a slight change in your diet either, you consume roughly 500-750 additional calories. Sleeping 1-2 hours less a day can throw your diet out of whack. What this tells us is your diet and sleeping patterns may be more correlated than we thought. A good daily pattern starts with a great nights sleep.


One of the reasons we may eat more when we’re deprived of sleep is to make ourselves feel more energized. Another reason may be hormonal, lack of sleep may disrupt your eating cycle, causing you to eat more. Having one night of poor sleep can really affect your next day. By not sleeping the right amount of time on a daily basis, it will take a real toll on your body. One of the immediate effects could be weight gain.


Avoid sugary snacks before bed


Dessert is the best part of the meal, what’s so bad about a little sugary snack before bed? Having sugary foods right before going to bed will have a huge impact on your sleep for the worse. Sugar typically gives you energy and the last thing you need before going to sleep is a lot of energy.


If I can’t have sugary goodness during the night, I can consume it during the day, right? Having too much sugar during the day can affect the way you sleep at night. You may wake up randomly at night which will lead to a sleep deprived day. Not only will too much sugar during the day impact your sleep, but you may have a sugar high and end up crashing.


Having a good sleeping schedule partially depends on your sugar levels. On a day to day basis you want to make sure you are maintaining good sugar levels and not consuming too much or too little.


Avoid Refined Sugars


Refined sugars affect your blood sugar levels the most. These are found in white bread, rice,pasta, cereals, a lot of desserts, pops, juices, canned fruits, bbq sauces, and a lot more. Avoiding these sugars may be a bit hard, but it’s not impossible.


Carbs slow down the release of melatonin (the sleep hormone). Melatonin controls our sleep cycles and helps us with deeper and restful sleep. Start cutting back your sugar intakes slowly and start replacing it with fiber.


What foods can I eat?


There are a lot of foods you can consume that will help you sleep better. Swap out your carbs to whole grains, you should see the difference in your sleeping patterns relatively quickly. A few examples of whole grain foods are: Brown rice, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, etc. There are plenty of options out there so you should starve.


You should also up your intake of fiber, fiber has been linked to having a better night’s sleep. You can find fiber in a lot of different foods, here a few examples: Broccoli, lentils, avocados, apples, oranges and many others.


Having sugary treats once in a while won’t ruin your sleeping patterns, but making it a habit will take a compounding effect on your sleep. Cutting back on refined sugars, while eating more whole grains and fiber should help lead to a better nights sleep. Avoiding sweets might be the solution to Sweeter Dreams.


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