How your eating habits can play a big part in how well you sleep at night.
If you’re having problems getting the sleep you need to function properly the next day then you might want to look at your diet and when you eat during the day.
Too little sleep is known to impact your eating habits, appetite, weight gain and other metabolic functions, but little is known about whether different diets play a role in how well you sleep.
A study of more than 4,500 people found distinct dietary patterns among four groups of participants whose sleep habits were described as either very short (less than 5 hours a night), short (5-6 hours), normal (7-8 hours) and long (9 or more hours).
The results revealed the following about the eating habits of each group.
* Very short sleepers: Had the least food variety, drank less water and consumed fewer total carbohydrates and lycopene (an antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables).
* Short sleepers: Consumed the most calories but ate less vitamin C and selenium, and drank less water. Short sleepers tended to eat more lutein and zeaxanthin than other groups.
* Normal sleepers: Had the most food variety in their diet, which is generally associated with a healthier way of eating.
* Long sleepers: Consumed the least calories as well as less theobromine (found in chocolate and tea), choline and total carbs. Long sleepers tended to drink more alcohol.
Researchers admit they aren’t sure what the results mean but there are certain which are known to either promote or hinder a good night’s sleep.
Many people grew up drinking a glass of warm milk before bed to help lull them into sleep, and as an adult you make now drink a cup of warm chamomile tea, which is known for its calming properties.
Certain foods, too, are known for their sleep-inducing effects. Cherries are a natural source of the “sleep hormone” melatonin, while almonds and spinach are rich in magnesium, which is also known for promoting sleep and relaxing muscles.
However there are also foods that can significantly interfere with your sleep. Anything with too much caffeine would certainly be among them, but so would spicy foods before bedtime.
The general advice is to avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars as these will raise your blood sugar and delay sleep.
When you eat may be as important as what you eat, according to other research which suggests that the timing of your meals may throw off your body’s internal clock and lead to weight gain.
For instance, artificial light, such as a glow from your TV or computer, can serve as a stimulus for keeping you awake and, possibly, eating, when you should really be asleep.
In one study, mice that were exposed to dim light during the night gained 50 percent more weight over an eight-week period than mice kept in complete darkness at night.