CAN’T SLEEP? TRY SOME KIWI

This fruit and other foods have a direct im­pact on the qual­ity of your slum­ber.

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D iet and sleep are the two fac­tors that pretty much dic­tate your well-be­ing, so it’s no won­der that sci­en­tists are ex­plor­ing how they in­ter­act. Ac­cord­ing to Chris Win­ter, a sleep spe­cial­ist in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, and the au­thor of The Sleep So­lu­tion, there is a clear con­nec­tion be­tween them. “Sleep and wake­ful­ness are con­trolled by a series of chem­i­cal re­ac­tions in the body,” he says. “Cer­tain nu­tri­ents can af­fect them to al­ter how long it takes you to fall asleep, how of­ten you wake up dur­ing the night, and how you feel the next day.”

This is far be­yond drink­ing warm milk to drift off. Your day-to-day diet is what has the po­ten­tial to im­prove your night’s sleep. Here’s the deal:

You need even more fi­bre

Peo­ple who fill up on this nu­tri­ent spend more time in deep sleep, the Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal

Sleep Medicine re­ports. (Peo­ple who get less fi­bre, more sat­u­rated fat, and more sugar wake up more of­ten.)

Al­though ex­perts don’t have the full story on how fi­bre in­flu­ences sleep, it may have to do with the way your body di­gests dif­fer­ent types of carbs. Low-fi­bre carbs like rice and white bread are quickly bro­ken down into sugar, and if you eat them at night, they may re­duce the over­all qual­ity of your sleep, says Robert Gra­ham, a co­founder of Fresh Med, an in­te­gra­tive health and well­ness cen­ter in New York. “They dra­mat­i­cally spike blood sugar, which causes a surge in in­sulin and makes us feel drowsy at first, but once in­sulin lev­els go back to nor­mal, you get a swell of en­ergy,” he says. Fi­bre-rich carbs like whole grains are bro­ken down slowly and don’t set off the en­ergy roller coaster. You want at least 25 grams spread out dur­ing the day.

Any in­dul­gence should hap­pen early

Peo­ple who get less than seven hours of sleep a night tend to eat more fat over­all, the jour­nal Ad­vances in Nutri­tion re­ports. “Long-term high fat in­take can throw off your lev­els of lep­tin and ghre­lin, two hor­mones that af­fect ap­petite and also reg­u­late wake­ful­ness,” says Yingt­ing Cao, a re­searcher at the Univer­sity of Ade­laide in Aus­tralia.

To pro­tect your sleep, avoid hav­ing a high-fat din­ner. In Yingt­ing’s re­search, peo­ple who ate the most fat then were more likely to have sleep trou­bles than those who ate less. Aim for around 10 grams in the evening, or about what’s in 85 grams of salmon. And watch your in­take of sat­u­rated fat, the kind that’s in meat. In the Jour­nal of

Clin­i­cal Sleep Medicine study, par­tic­i­pants who con­sumed larger amounts of sat­u­rated fat spent less time in restora­tive slow-wave sleep. It can trig­ger in­flam­ma­tion, which Yingt­ing says may af­fect your z’s.

Break­fast? Non-ne­go­tiable

Your gut has its own in­ter­nal clock, and just like your brain’s, it can get jet-lagged. In a study in the jour­nal Science, mice who went more than 16 hours be­fore eat­ing a meal shifted their cir­ca­dian rhythms. “If the same rules ap­ply to hu­mans – which seems likely but needs to be con­firmed – the body clock would be thrown off when­ever there is a long period of fast­ing fol­lowed by a meal. The new wak­ing time would be an hour or two be­fore the meal­time the next day,” says Clif­ford Saper, the study’s lead au­thor.

To keep your stom­ach and brain clocks in sync, eat meals at semireg­u­lar times. “It’s es­pe­cially im­por­tant to eat break­fast to es­tab­lish your bi­o­log­i­cal morn­ing and not to eat too late in the evening, when the body is not ready to di­gest,” Clif­ford says.

Have a snack be­fore bed

If you’re not get­ting enough calo­ries, your body turns to fat for en­ergy. “As part of that process, your sys­tem re­leases no­ra­drenaline, a nat­u­ral up­per,” says Mike Rous­sell, a nutri­tion strate­gist and the au­thor of Me­taShred Diet. Feel­ing hun­gry is also un­com­fort­able, which can keep you up, says Marie-Pierre St-Onge, an as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor of nu­tri­tional medicine at Columbia Univer­sity. To avoid this, have a pro­tein- and fi­bre-rich snack two to four hours be­fore bed. Bonus: Eat­ing pro­tein be­fore you sleep helps build your mus­cles too.

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