You probably already know that eating a healthy diet and getting good quality sleep is crucial for staying healthy and fit. However, you may not be familiar with how a healthy diet and good sleep are linked to each other.
The food you eat affects the way you sleep, and lack of sleep due to sleep disorders can affect your food choices and your other life decisions. Recognizing the connection between diet and sleep can allow a person to improve both aspects.
Let’s explore the link between food and sleep quality and some foods that can help you get a better night’s rest.
Connection Between Sleep and Diet
The foods and beverages that we consume not only lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart health problems but also affect the duration and quality of our sleep. For example, an unhealthy diet contributes to excess body weight, which can cause or worsen sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea–a serious sleep disorder that causes impaired breathing and numerous nighttime awakening sessions. Similarly, beverages like alcohol can impair the muscle tone of the airways, thereby worsening obstructive sleep apnea.
On the other hand, insufficient sleep due to sleep disorders can also impact a person’s dietary choices. Multiple studies have reported that individuals who do not get enough sleep (due to sleep disorders or some other conditions) are more likely to increase their food consumption without an equivalent increase in their use of energy. This means that the lack of sleep due to sleep disorders can provoke the tendency to select high-calorie food that offers fewer nutritional benefits and increases the risk of weight gain.
Studies have also found that the lack of sleep can impair the normal production of important hormones, such as leptin and ghrelin (hormones that control appetite and hunger), which drive poor nutritional choices. Sleep disorders also affect our mood, concentration, and decision-making skills, all of which play a crucial role in the type of food we incorporate into our diet.
A sleep study is one good way to determine the underlying cause of an individual’s lack of sleep or improper sleep and develop a treatment plan to address sleep disorders. A sleep doctor can also recommend a nutritional plan that best suits your unique needs and helps with your rest.
Foods That Help with Sleep
Multiple research studies have suggested that certain foods and nutrients may help achieve quality sleep.
For instance, research has found that people who consume a Mediterranean diet are more likely to have adequate sleep. A Mediterranean diet is focused on plant-based foods along with healthy fats like olive oil and includes less sugar and meat than the standard American diet.
An ample amount of research has also suggested that the DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet plan is associated with a lower frequency of daytime sleepiness, sleep disturbance, and insomnia. This diet emphasizes consuming fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while limiting the intake of saturated fats and sugars.
Certain other foods that can help people get to sleep faster, sleep through the night, and experience better-quality sleep include kiwi fruit, cherries, fish, pumpkin seeds, nuts, herbal teas, and carbohydrates. On the other hand, the foods that can increase the likelihood of sleep problems and that you should avoid include sugar, caffeinated beverages, chocolates, alcohol, meat, spicy foods, and fatty foods.
Sleep Study in Weatherford, TX
Suppose you are having trouble sleeping or falling asleep. In that case, it is best to talk to a sleep medicine specialist who can perform a sleep study and assess the underlying medical issue causing your sleep troubles.
At Lung & Sleep Specialists of North Texas, our very own board-certified sleep medicine doctor, Dr. Olusegun Oseni, performs a sleep study to identify any underlying sleep disorders, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, and obstructive sleep apnea. What’s more, they will also assess your diet and other factors that may contribute to your sleep problems and analyze how your sleep problem affects your dietary choices and overall health. Based on the sleep study and assessment results, our sleep medicine doctor will develop a personalized treatment plan to address your unique sleep and related problems.