We consider a nutritious diet and exercise to be healthy behaviors, but sleep is one of the pillars of a healthy lifestyle. Why is it? Sleep sets the stage for our days. If we experience deep sleep for seven to eight hours, we wake up energized in the morning. Diet, exercise and sleep work in synergy and influence each other. All three can have an effect on our everyday well-being and longevity.
To be well and vital and help prevent certain diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes and many other conditions, we must prioritize sleep. When we make sleep a priority, we can improve our food choices and engage in mindful eating by listening to our true appetite.
Sleep has an impact on our eating habits and our eating habits have an impact on our sleep
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. However, according to the CDC, only one in three adults follows these guidelines. At the same time, people find it difficult to sleep, they also find it difficult to bear their weight and make healthy food choices. A Research study showed that subjects who got only four hours of sleep consumed 300 more calories per day, compared to those who got nine hours of rest.
When we are deprived of sleep, hormones that affect appetite and satiety are disrupted. Ghrelin increases our appetite, and leptin plays an important role in helping us feel full. When we don’t get enough sleep, ghrelin goes up and leptin goes down. Researchers looked at 495 women’s sleep patterns, their daily amount of food, and the quality of the food. They found that poor quality of sleep was correlated with greater food consumption and inferior diet.
What do we need to eat to get a good night’s sleep?
According to a study who examined the correlation between duration of sleep (monitored by an actigraphy device worn on the wrist) and symptoms of insomnia (measured by a self-reported questionnaire) with adherence to a Mediterranean-type diet (self- declaration from a food frequency questionnaire). The results suggest that a Mediterranean-style diet is associated with adequate sleep duration and fewer symptoms of insomnia.
The mediterranean diet includes whole fresh foods and lots of fruits, vegetables, bread and other grains, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds, olive oil as the main source of fat and dairy products, eggs, fish and poultry in low to moderate quantities. Red meat is limited and processed foods are avoided. The wine is consumed in moderation. However, it is not a good idea to drink alcohol before bed, as it can interfere with sleep.
What might the Mediterranean diet affect sleep?
Some key foods that are part of the Mediterranean diet are high in melatonin, serotonin, and vitamin D. Preliminary research suggests that certain foods like milk, oily fish, tart cherry juice, and kiwi fruit may improve sleep. All of these foods could fit into a Mediterranean diet.
The mechanisms by which these foods can improve sleep are still poorly understood. Oily fish, like salmon, are rich in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Both of these nutrients are known to help regulate serotonin and could be important in sleep. Tart cherries have a high concentration of melatonin, and studies have shown that drinking tart cherry juice may increase urinary melatonin levels (but be careful with the sugar content of tart cherry juice if you’re trying to lose weight. ). It is believed that kiwifruit may help sleep due to its high antioxidant content, as well as its serotonin and folic acid content. All of these are just theories at this point, and more rigorous research needs to be done before any definitive conclusions can be drawn about the effect of a particular food on sleep.
To take away
- Lack of sleep can cause us to eat more and make less healthy food choices.
- The Mediterranean diet can be healthy not only for the heart and brain, but also for sleep.
- Some key foods that are part of the Mediterranean diet are high in melatonin, serotonin, and vitamin D, and these foods can improve sleep.
- More research is needed to fully determine the correlation between a particular diet, certain nutrients, and sleep.