Do you jump out of bed ready to start the day or are you making deals with the alarm clock for five more minutes? Negotiating for more morning slumber could mean a lack of nighttime restorative sleep.
It is well established that sleep deprivation disrupts the body’s hormonal balance in a way that can contribute to overeating. Increased inflammation and inattentiveness are two other negative consequences of poor sleep quality.
To find out what good sleepers are eating, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania evaluated connections between sleep and dietary patterns.
The short sleepers got less than six hours of sleep, the standard sleepers slept for seven to eight hours and the long sleepers were snoozing for more than nine hours a night. Short and very short sleep was associated with less water intake, less lycopene found in red and orange foods, and less selenium (found in nuts and shellfish). Short sleepers consumed more calories than normal and long sleepers.
Short and long sleepers have less variety of foods in their diet when compared to standard sleepers. This is intriguing info but it cannot be concluded that adding more variety of fruit and veggies as well as water, which are positive nutrition changes, will improve sleep.
There are foods that might lead to better slumber. Melatonin, an antioxidant that has been shown to assist with sleep, is in a few foods. Tart cherries, fresh, dried or juiced, are the best source of natural melatonin. Smaller amounts of melatonin are in walnuts and bananas.
Another nighttime relaxer is the combo of potassium and magnesium. Bananas are a good source of both in addition to melatonin. And there is some research that warm milk, with its L- tryptophan combined with a wholesome grain like oatmeal, is a path to sweet dreams.
Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.