If you want to sleep more soundly and possibly drop a few pounds, amp up your fiber intake and forgo the sweets and saturated fats.
A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that what we eat has a big impact on our quality of sleep. The small study included 26 adults, 13 men and 13 women, with an average age of 35. They each spent five nights in a sleep lab, sleeping an average of seven hours and 35 minutes a night. During the first four days of the experiment, they ate a controlled diet. On the fifth day, they selected their own food.
Study participants fell asleep nearly twice as fast after consuming the controlled meals, which were designed by a nutritionist and were low in saturated fat and high in protein, than after the last "free" meal.
"It was most surprising that a single day of greater fat intake and lower fiber could influence sleep parameters," study author Marie-Pierre St-Onge of Columbia University's Institute of Human Nutrition said in a statement.
On that last night, the researchers found that participants experienced less restorative sleep and were more likely to wake up throughout the night. It took them an average of 17 minutes to fall asleep after eating the controlled meals, while it took an average of 29 minutes when they ate the meals of their choosing.
"This study emphasizes the fact that diet and sleep are interwoven in the fabric of a healthy lifestyle," Dr. Nathaniel Watson, the president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, said in a press release, though he did not work directly on the study. "For optimal health it is important to make lifestyle choices that promote healthy sleep, such as eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly."
While more study is needed, the researchers said, the diet suggested by the results is definitely healthful. To try it, consider incorporating high-fiber foods like brown rice, flax, beans, lentils, fruit and leafy greens into your diet. Reducing the amount of meat, cheese and fried food you eat will help you cut the saturated fat and, hopefully, sleep easier.
Previous studies have found that fiber-rich diets can help achieve a healthy weight, keep you feeling fuller for longer and make your digestion run a little more smoothly. Sounds like fiber is the way to go if you want to #LiveYourBestLife.
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