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Trouble sleeping? Healthy eaters fall asleep faster and better

Participants given a menu rich in fiber and protein fell asleep more quickly, drifting off in 17 minutes compared to 29 minutes when eating the foods of their choice.

health and fitness Updated: Jan 19, 2016 14:27 IST
Sleeping

Participants given a menu rich in fiber and protein fell asleep more quickly, drifting off in 17 minutes compared to 29 minutes when eating the foods of their choice.(Shutterstock)

Are you still counting sheep? Don’t worry, you just need to do this one thing to sleep better and faster according to a new American study.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, has found that what we eat can influence the way we sleep. The study found that eating fiber and cutting down on saturated fat and sugar were associated with deep, more restorative and less disrupted sleep.

Read: You will wake up grumpy if you sleep on the right side of bed

Cleaning up your diet could be the key to a better night’s sleep, it seems. American researchers have found that the foods we consume in a single day can affect the quality of our sleep for the night ahead. “Our main finding was that diet quality influenced sleep quality,” said the study’s lead author Marie-Pierre St-Onge, assistant professor in the department of medicine and Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University Medical Center, New York, “It was most surprising that a single day of greater fat intake and lower fiber could influence sleep parameters.”

Cleaning up your diet could be the key to a better night’s sleep. (Shutterstock)

The team of researchers studied the sleep of 26 adults aged 35 years old. A total of 13 women and 13 men spent five nights being monitored in a sleep lab between 10 pm and 7 am After adjusting participants’ diets, tests were carried out during the third and fifth nights, with physiological changes of all kinds monitored and recorded, from heart rate and muscle contractions, to brain activity and eye movement.

Read: A good night’s sleep can help you cut diabetes

The results showed that participants given a menu rich in fiber and protein, developed by a nutritionist, fell asleep more quickly, drifting off in 17 minutes compared to an average 29 minutes when eating the foods of their choice.

The researchers underlined that when accompanied with regular physical exercise, switching to a healthier diet is a simple lifestyle choice that anyone can make to help promote good sleep. (Shutterstock)

As well as falling asleep more quickly, the healthy eaters enjoyed a longer phase of deep, slow-wave sleep -- the phase that helps us recover from accumulated physical fatigue. Participants given more fatty foods had shorter slow-wave sleep cycles. Sugar, on the other hand, was associated with more arousals from sleep.

The findings could bring precious hope to people suffering from sleep disorders, which are in turn associated with the development of chronic illnesses like hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The researchers underlined that when accompanied with regular physical exercise, switching to a healthier diet is a simple lifestyle choice that anyone can make to help promote good sleep.