When applied to sleep, the phrase “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,” is especially true. There’s a lot of information circulating about sleep, because sleep seems an increasingly elusive luxury. But sleep is actually one of our most basic needs and shouldn’t be viewed as a modern luxury at all.
Of course there’s a lot in our modern culture to credit for the changes in our sleep patterns, like technology, but from work to relaxation, giving up gadget time doesn’t seem like a sustainable solution for many of us. So how can we maintain good sleep, without disrupting our daily habits? New research suggests that one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to simply eat smarter.
Researchers who study the effects of diet on sleep patterns found that diets high in saturated fats, high in sugar, and low in fiber are associated with lighter, less restorative sleep. For a lot of us, lost sleep creates an infinite feedback loop. We begin losing sleep because of physical or mental stress, which generally fosters a lackluster morning, followed by foods that provide us quick energy (read: high in sugar and saturated fat); these foods stress our bodies and minds just in time for another afternoon where we grab quick, low-quality energy only to deliver us to another evening of low-quality sleep.
So if you thought that those sugary breakfast bars or fast food biscuits were only hurting your waistline, think again. Researchers also found that these higher sugar, higher saturated fat diets are associated with waking up more often in the night. (1)
Fortunately for those who like a quick fix, fruits like apples, which are high in fiber, and filling whole grains, like oatmeal, are just as simple to grab as a drive-thru chicken biscuit or a chocolate dipped breakfast bar. And for those really short on time, don’t feel like you have to reinvent the wheel each morning with a 7-day breakfast plan. Stick to a small handful of simple breakfasts, low in sugar and saturated fats and high in fiber. You’ll not only help your body, but you’ll also ease your mind. So trade in your sweet treats for sweet dreams– it will help you move more, so you can live more!
1: St-Onge MP, Roberts A, Shechter A, Choudhury AR. Fiber and saturated fat are associated with sleep arousals and slow wave sleep. J Clin Sleep Med 2016;12(1):19–24.