This has not been a very good year for sleep.
With the coronavirus pandemic, and school and work disruptions, contributing to countless sleepless nights, sleep experts have encouraged people to adopt a variety of measures to overcome their stress-related insomnia. Among their recommendations engage in regular exercise, establish a nightly bedtime routine and cut back on screen-time and social media.
But many people may be overlooking another important factor in poor sleep diet. A growing body of research suggests that the foods you eat can affect how well you sleep, and your sleep patterns can affect your dietary choices.
Researchers have found that eating a diet that is high in sugar, saturated fat and processed carbohydrates can disrupt your sleep, while eating more plants, fibre and foods rich in unsaturated fat such as nuts, olive oil, fish and avocados seems to have the opposite effect, helping to promote sound sleep.
Much of what we know about sleep and diet comes from large epidemiological studies that, over the years, have found that people who suffer from consistently bad sleep tend to have poorer quality diets, with less protein, fewer fruits and vegetables, and a higher intake of added sugar from foods like sugary beverages, desserts and ultra-processed foods. But by their nature, epidemiological studies can show only correlations, not cause and effect. They cannot explain, for example, whether poor diet precedes and leads to poor sleep, or the reverse.
To get a better understanding of the relationship between diet and sleep, some researchers have turned to randomised controlled trials in which they tell participants what to eat and then look for sleep changes. A number of studies have looked at the impact of individual foods, from warm milk to fruit juice. But those studies often have been small and not very rigorous.
Some of these trials have also been funded by the food industry, which can bias results. One study, funded by Zespri International, the worlds largest marketer of kiwi fruit, for example, found that people assigned to eat two kiwis an hour before their bedtime every night for four weeks had improvements in their sleep onset, duration and efficiency. The authors of the study attributed their findings in part to an abundance of antioxidants in kiwis. But importantly, the study lacked a control group, so it is possible that any benefits could have resulted from the placebo effect.
Other studies, funded by the cherry industry, have found that drinking tart cherry juice can modestly improve sleep in people with insomnia, supposedly by promoting tryptophan, one of the building blocks of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin.
Tryptophan is an amino acid found in many foods, including dairy and turkey, which is one of the reasons commonly given for why so many of us feel so sleepy after our Thanksgiving feasts. But tryptophan has to cross the blood-brain barrier to have any soporific effects, and in the presence of other amino acids found in food it ends up competing, largely unsuccessfully, for absorption. Studies show that eating protein-rich foods such as milk and turkey on their own actually decreases the ability of tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier.
One way to enhance tryptophans uptake is to pair foods that contain it with carbohydrates. That combination stimulates the release of insulin, which causes competing amino acids to be absorbed by muscles, in turn making it easier for tryptophan to cross into the brain, said Marie-Pierre St-Onge, an associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Centre and the director of the Sleep Centre of Excellence at Columbia.
St-Onge has spent years studying the relationship between diet and sleep. Her work suggests that rather than emphasising one or two specific foods with supposedly sleep-inducing properties, it is better to focus on the overall quality of your diet. In one randomised clinical trial, she and her colleagues recruited 26 healthy adults and controlled what they ate for four days, providing them regular meals prepared by nutritionists while also monitoring how they slept at night. On the fifth day, the subjects were allowed to eat whatever they wanted.
The researchers discovered that eating more saturated fat and less fibre from foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains led to reductions in slow-wave sleep, which is the deep, restorative kind. In general, clinical trials have also found that carbohydrates have a significant impact on sleep: People tend to fall asleep much faster at night when they consume a high-carbohydrate diet compared to when they consume a high-fat or high-protein diet. That may have something to do with carbs helping tryptophan cross into the brain more easily.
But the quality of carbs matters. In fact, they can be a double-edged sword when it comes to slumber. St-Onge has found in her research that when people eat more sugar and simple carbs such as white bread, bagels, pastries and pasta they wake up more frequently throughout the night. In other words, eating carbs may help you fall asleep faster, but it is best to consume complex carbs that contain fibre, which may help you obtain more deep, restorative sleep.
Complex carbohydrates provide a more stable blood sugar level, she said. So if blood sugar levels are more stable at night, that could be the reason complex carbohydrates are associated with better sleep.
One example of a dietary pattern that may be optimal for better sleep is the Mediterranean diet, which emphasises such foods as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, seafood, poultry, yogurt, herbs and spices and olive oil. Large observational studies have found that people who follow this type of dietary pattern are less likely to suffer from insomnia and short sleep, though more research is needed to confirm the correlation.
But the relationship between poor diet and bad sleep is a two-way street: Scientists have found that as people lose sleep, they experience physiological changes that can nudge them to seek out junk food. In clinical trials, healthy adults who are allowed to sleep only four or five hours a night end up consuming more calories and snacking more frequently throughout the day. They experience more hunger and their preference for sweet foods increases.
In men, sleep deprivation stimulates increased levels of ghrelin, the so-called hunger hormone, while in women, restricting sleep leads to lower levels of GLP-1, a hormone that signals satiety. So in men, short sleep promotes greater appetite and desire to eat, and in women there is less of a signal that makes you stop eating, St-Onge said.
Changes also occur in the brain. St-Onge found that when men and women were restricted to four hours of nightly sleep for five nights in a row, they had greater activation in reward centres of the brain in response to pepperoni pizza, doughnuts and candy compared to healthy foods such as carrots, yogurt, oatmeal and fruit. After five nights of normal sleep, however, this pattern disappeared.
Another study, led by researchers at Kings College London, also demonstrated how proper sleep can increase your willpower to avoid unhealthy foods. It found that habitually short sleepers who went through a program to help them sleep longer had improvements in their diet. The most striking change was that they cut about 10 grams of added sugar from their diets each day, about 2 teaspoons.
The takeaway is that diet and sleep are entwined. Improving one can help you improve the other and vice versa, creating a positive cycle where they perpetuate one another, said Dr Susan Redline, a senior physician at the Brigham and Womens Hospital and a professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School who studies diet and sleep disorders. The best way to approach health is to emphasise a healthy diet and healthy sleep, she added. These are two very important health behaviours that can reinforce each other. New York Times
See the article here:
How what you are eating is affecting how you sleep - The Irish Times
- Don't Give Up: 9 Ways to Reinvent Your 2021 Diet, Fitness Resolutions - Healthline - January 12th, 2021
- How to Lose Belly Fat | Belly Fat Exercises and Diet - esquire.com - January 12th, 2021
- Kate Middleton's diet and exercise: her fitness secrets revealed - New Idea - January 12th, 2021
- 5 Diet Pill Ingredients That Actually Work For Weight Loss - South Florida Caribbean News - January 12th, 2021
- The best esports exercise and diet plan by the Head of Performance at EXCEL ESPORTS - T3 - January 12th, 2021
- Low-carb, no sugar, no fat: the fad diets popular in the 20th century - The Conversation UK - January 12th, 2021
- Robert Pattinson 'Batman' Workout and Diet Plan - Men's health UK - January 12th, 2021
- 7 At-Home Exercises You Need To Add In Your Journey From FAT-TO-FIT - Tech Geeked - January 12th, 2021
- Actor Ethan Suplee, on His Abs, Weight Loss, and Mental Strength - menshealth.com - January 12th, 2021
- Skip the diet and dating goals? You should make this your New Year's resolution - USA TODAY - January 12th, 2021
- Ingenuine workout and diet plans have made fitness freak Vaughn Cohen the best fitness trainer in Marbella, Europe. - Datasource Hub - January 12th, 2021
- Weight loss: "I climbed 60 flights of stairs regularly and got in shape" - Times of India - January 12th, 2021
- The 17 Best Longevity Tips Experts Taught Us in 2020 - Well+Good - January 12th, 2021
- Improve HDL and LDL with TLC - Bel Marra Health - January 12th, 2021
- 'I've Maintained My 61-Pound Weight Loss For 8 Years By Setting These S.M.A.R.T. Goals' - Yahoo Lifestyle - January 9th, 2021
- New Year, New Wellness Goals - UPMC - January 9th, 2021
- COVID keeping you from the gym? No problem - Indianapolis Recorder - January 9th, 2021
- Stay Fit in Your 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and Beyond - Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic - January 9th, 2021
- 806 Health Tip: A Few Diets To Try In The New Year - mix941kmxj.com - January 9th, 2021
- Nutrition and mental health: Is there a link? - Medical News Today - January 9th, 2021
- Ensure Healthy Thyroid Function With These Expert Recommended Diet Tips - NDTV - January 9th, 2021
- How to get fit: Get fit for 2021 with the best workouts and diet tips - T3 - January 9th, 2021
- One 5-Minute Workout Can Melt Belly Fat, Says Study - Eat This, Not That - January 9th, 2021
- Meet the bacteria that might help treat diabetes - Medical News Today - January 9th, 2021
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: Make These Changes In Your Diet And Lifestyle To Fight Symptoms Effectively - NDTV - January 9th, 2021
- Diabetes + Obesity = Diabesity: All You Need To Know About This Metabolic Dysfunction - India.com - January 9th, 2021
- Make these diet and lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of cancer - TheHealthSite - January 9th, 2021
- The Diet Plans To Suit All Shapes And Sizes, From 5/2 To Fasting Via Veganism - The Sportsman - January 9th, 2021
- 'After Starting A Low-Carb, High-Protein Diet, I Lost 85 Pounds And Got Rid Of So Many Cravings' - Women's Health - January 5th, 2021
- The One Test to Get If You're Worried About Your Heart Health - The Beet - January 5th, 2021
- US News ranks the best diets for weight loss, other health benefits for 2021 - WTOP - January 5th, 2021
- Health and fitness essentials to help you tackle your New Year's resolution - CNN - January 5th, 2021
- On Waitlist for Liver Transplants, Women Die More Often Than Men - HealthDay News - January 5th, 2021
- Five experts, five tips: GPs on keeping well mentally and physically - The Irish Times - January 5th, 2021
- This Guy Followed a Plant-Based Diet and Lost 180 Pounds - menshealth.com - January 5th, 2021
- What is intuitive eating? The anti-diet that wants to repair your relationship with food - Her.ie - January 5th, 2021
- Weight management goals to set this year - The Citizen - January 5th, 2021
- High-Calorie Food In Winters: Why To Avoid It And Expert-Suggested Alternatives - NDTV Food - January 5th, 2021
- Could a supplement be as effective as exercise at protecting health? - Medical News Today - January 3rd, 2021
- Diet & exercise should be on your New Year's Resolution list - Yahoo News - January 3rd, 2021
- The Case for Keto review why a full-fat diet should be on the menu - The Guardian - January 3rd, 2021
- Aussie fitness guru Tiffiny Hall reveals how to lose that final five kilos - 9Coach - January 3rd, 2021
- In Exercised, Harvard professor Daniel Lieberman looks at why exercise, despite its aggravations, is worth it - The Boston Globe - January 3rd, 2021
- Cold weather or winter headaches - What causes them? - TheHealthSite - January 3rd, 2021
- Jessica Alba Swears by Pilates, HIIT, and Hot Yoga for Strong, Sculpted Abs at 39 - Prevention.com - January 3rd, 2021
- Looking to Be Healthier in the New Year? These Tips Will Help - South Florida Reporter - January 3rd, 2021
- Zion Williamson Changed His Diet After a Disappointing Rookie Year: All the Sauce, the Bacon, That StuffHe Cant Have That - Sportscasting - January 3rd, 2021
- Belfast weight-loss expert offers five top tips for fitness and diet in 2021 - Belfast Live - January 3rd, 2021
- Resolutions: Small, steady change to lifestyle is better than dieting, expert says - The Augusta Chronicle - January 3rd, 2021
- How to boost your immune system in weeks and maintain it long-term - BusinessGhana - January 3rd, 2021
- Dementia: Weight training exercises could help protect the brain against Alzheimers - TechnoCodex - January 3rd, 2021
- 5 New Year's Resolutions for Better Gut Health - LIVESTRONG.COM - January 3rd, 2021
- 5 ways to get fitter than ever, include exercise in 2021 - Times Now - January 3rd, 2021
- The dangers of obesity in pets - Kathorus Mail - January 3rd, 2021
- 7-day bodybuilding meal plan: Benefits, nutrition, and grocery list - Medical News Today - December 27th, 2020
- Skipping These Foods Can Be Dangerous for Your Mental Health, Study Says - Eat This, Not That - December 27th, 2020
- The warrior diet: Pros, cons, how to follow it, and example meal plan - Medical News Today - December 27th, 2020
- Ray Wetterlund III : You're only one workout away from a good mood - Thrive Global - December 27th, 2020
- The Biking Workout That Hit 10,000 Miles in a Year - The Wall Street Journal - December 27th, 2020
- What is the best diet for women? Options and research - Medical News Today - December 27th, 2020
- Cut back on meat for a week with this 7-day vegetarian meal plan recommended by a registered dietitian - Business Insider India - December 27th, 2020
- The 6 Best Diets That Will Make You Live Longer, Say Dietitians - Eat This, Not That - December 27th, 2020
- The best nutrition to start 2021 - Sportstar - December 27th, 2020
- How to boost your immune system in weeks and maintain it long-term - Insider - INSIDER - December 27th, 2020
- Drew Barrymores Fitness Routine Isnt Perfect, but This Was Still a Really Healthy Year - Prevention.com - December 27th, 2020
- Bloated, full, sluggish: Is fasting the answer to festive feasting? - Sydney Morning Herald - December 27th, 2020
- Follow These Home Remedies to Get Rid of Constipation - TechnoCodex - December 27th, 2020
- Best way to create healthy New Year's Resolution for 2021 - Mumbai Live - December 27th, 2020
- The best diet is the diet you can stick to - Seacoastonline.com - December 27th, 2020
- Soda Habits That Are Shortening Your Life, According to Science - Eat This, Not That - December 27th, 2020
- How to live longer: Walking pace may influence your life expectancy - how fast to walk - Express - December 27th, 2020
- The pillars of mental health: Good sleep, exercise, and healthy diet - Yahoo News UK - December 20th, 2020
- Weight loss: "I had dalia every night for dinner and got my pre-pregnancy body back" - Times of India - December 20th, 2020
- What a cutting diet is and how to follow it - Medical News Today - December 20th, 2020
- Nutrition and exercise is key in easing joint pain - IOL - December 20th, 2020
- Americans promise to eat healthier 4 times a month but never follow through - Study Finds - December 20th, 2020
- Sabudana health benefits: 8 compelling reasons why you must include Sabudana (Sago) in your diet - Times of India - December 20th, 2020
- Winter Health Tips: Add Onion And Garlic To Your Diet To Prevent Cough And Cold, Says Nmami Agarwal - NDTV Doctor - December 20th, 2020
- A 20-Minute Workout to Sculpt Your Arms and Chest (See Ya, Armpit Fat) - LIVESTRONG.COM - December 20th, 2020
- Sleep, food, or exercise: Which has the biggest impact on mental health? - Stuff.co.nz - December 13th, 2020