(NaturalHealth365) Most experienced parents know: if you let children graze on unhealthy snacks and sweets all day, you can expect to have a hard time getting them to settle down and go to bed at night. Yet, too few adults draw the same conclusions when it comes to their own dietary habits.
But research reveals a diet low in fiber and heavy in unhealthy saturated fat and sugar can result in lighter, less restorative sleep. While the idea of consuming high-fiber, healthy foods to get a good night’s sleep is not a new idea, recently published research can help put you on the right track for curing insomnia without pharmaceuticals.
High fiber diet connected to a good night’s sleep
A study out of Columbia University concludes that consuming higher-fiber foods can lead to more hours in a deep, dreamless sleep known as slow-wave sleep. Researchers tracked the diets and sleep patterns of 26 adults, with an equal number of men and women, aged 20 to 45 years old for five nights in a controlled sleep lab. The study was published earlier this year in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
While the study sample was admittedly small, and larger studies down the road are necessary to confirm the conclusions, results provide further evidence that following a healthy diet can pay large dividends. Previous research has linked poor sleep patterns with chronic health problems like, high blood pressure. Opting for healthy whole natural grains, clean proteins, healthy fats and lots of vegetables and fruits in place of sugar and toxic fats can go a long way toward maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Principal investigator Marie-Pierre St-Onge stated that the main conclusion to be drawn is that diet quality truly can influence sleep quality. But what was truly surprising was that just one day of eating poorly – basically low in fiber and too much fat – can influence the most restful stages of sleep.
Healthy whole foods offer up ingredients for better sleep patterns
Researchers in the Columbia University study looked at the impact of fiber without regard to how it is consumed. In addition, the study took a closer look at how sugary sweets and foods high in saturated fats can interrupt the sleep cycle.
Time-honored advice tells us to eat a broad variety of fiber-rich foods to get a restful sleep. But is it the fiber that make the differences? Research results suggest that fiber is only a part of the story.
For example, tart cherries might be effective because they have sleep-assisting melatonin in them, while fiber-heavy chickpeas contain vitamin B6, known to be a precursor to melatonin.
Findings of the study found that the subjects slept better when a nutritionist with an understanding of the food-sleep cycle link prepared meals. On average, it took 29 minutes for the subjects to fall asleep when they were provided a free rein in consuming food and beverages. But with a professional preparing controlled meals, they fell asleep in just 17 minutes on average.
Restful sleep is associated with a broad number of health benefits in addition to a healthy heart, including improved memory, increased longevity, reduced inflammation, sharpened attention, improved concentration, maintenance of proper weight, lowered stress, and emotional stability.
Wake up refreshed by establishing healthy eating habits that included plenty of whole foods high in fiber. Follow other scientific-backed natural means of getting a good night’s sleep – like removing electronics, introducing aromatherapy and getting regular exercise – and you will garner the many health benefits of a good night’s sleep.
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