Two factors intrinsic to health are diet and sleep which may influence one another.
Research and studies shows that, Insufficient sleep adversely impacts eating behaviours and selection of food types in most individuals.
On the other hand lack of specific nutrients like dietary fibers (soluble), essential amino acids (tryptophan) and essential fatty acids (omega 3 including EPA/DHA) in the diet may interfere with sleep duration and quality.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of tryptophan is 4 mg per kg of body weight,
the experimental data indicates that supplementing whole diets rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and other sources of dietary tryptophan like whole Milk (732 mg/quart), tuna (472 mg/ounce), oats (147 mg/cup), cheese (91 mg/ounce), egg (77 mg/one large egg) and nuts, can improve sleep quality.
The adequate habitual sleep duration is considered (≥7 h per night) and a short sleep duration is <5.5 h/night.
Numerous studies conducted confirms that sleep restriction or limiting sleep to <5.5 h/night, increases energy intake and the changes in the types of food consumed relative to adequate habitual sleep.
It’s also evident that short and poor sleep are consistently linked with heightened risk for cardio-metabolic diseases, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Indeed, short sleep duration and poor sleep quality have been associated with adverse dietary behaviours, including higher intakes of energy (junk food) and sweets as well as lower intakes of foods shown to have health benefits, including vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
Multiple trials also show that sleep restriction leads to greater intake of fats, including saturated fat; promotes appetite for, and consumption of, carbohydrates; and increases snacking.
Taken together, these results suggest that reduced sleep decreases overall dietary quality.
You can break this cycle by taking the simple actions;
Implement sleep hygiene measures to increase sleep quality.
Practice meditation or relaxation techniques at bedtime.
As much as possible resist the temptation to stay awake, whatever you are waiting to finish can wait till dawn.
If you must stay awake, absolutely avoid eating or drinking anything after 10:00pm except drink water.
If you wake up during sleep and can’t fall asleep again stay away from the mobile screen and try the relaxation or 4:8 breathing (inhale for 4 counts and exhale for 8 counts).
Final thoughts: Sleep is not only influenced by the energy efficiency of the diet, but also by the content of macronutrients, such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Insufficient protein intake may impair sleep quality, while too much protein intake may lead to difficulties in maintaining sleep. More on this in my upcoming emails…
P.S. Minimum daily Protein intake for any age of women [weight x 0.8gram] and man [weight x 1gram]
Data shows in many developed countries more than one-third of adults fail to achieve adequate sleep duration of ≥7 h/night.
Poor sleep health is endemic.
When it comes to diet-to-sleep directionality, the evidence-based nutrition data persistently addresses six essential molecules; Tryptophan. Serotonin. Melatonin. Magnesium. Vitamin B’s. Dietary fibers.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid (breakdown of proteins) found mostly in animal products, such as beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and dairy, as well as in nuts and seeds, whole grains, and legumes.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates the neuronal activity and is responsible for inducing slow-wave sleep (SWS).
Melatonin is the primary hormonal modulator of the sleep-wake cycle increasing one’s ability to fall asleep.
B vitamins and magnesium are two cofactors required for the two enzymatic reactions in humans; primarily tryptophan conversion to serotonin and then serotonin conversion to melatonin.
In theory, consumption of carbohydrates/dietary fibers along with tryptophan-rich foods could enhance tryptophan entry into the brain, can this be a reason why you feel sleepy after a high carbohydrate meal? 🤓
The research studies on specific food below;
In an elderly population (55–75 years) consumption of a high-tryptophan cereal (2 daily servings of 30 g of cereals enriched with 60 mg/serving of tryptophan) for 1 week
100-gram fermented milk consumption (yogurt, buttermilk, cheese, etc.) per day for 3 weeks.
A milk-honey beverage consisting of 150 mL of low-fat milk and 30 g of honey, for 3 days in hospitalised acute coronary syndrome patients.
Healthy middle-aged (35–55 years) and elderly (65–85 years) men and women consumed fresh cherry 200 g/day, twice daily for 3 days from the popular cherry cultivars (Ambrunés, Bourlat, Navalinda, Pico Limón, Pico Colorado, Pico Negro, and Van).
Middle-aged to older adults (≥50 years) with chronic insomnia daily consumed 240 mL of “Montmorency” tart cherry juice in the morning and 1–2 h before bedtime for 2 weeks.
show following nightly sleep outcomes;
longer sleep duration,
greater sleep efficiency (percent of the time in bed spent asleep),
shorter sleep onset latency (the time it takes to fall asleep),
fewer awakenings at night,
self-reports of better general sleep quality.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of tryptophan is 4 mg/kg body weight and it is quite simple to get it. Calculate the total RDI of tryptophan for your body weight.
Check out the list of dietary sources of sleep enhancing molecules and introduce them in your diet.
Make the informed choice through evidence-based recommendations for a healthful dietary pattern that promotes good sleep and reduces the risk of chronic disease.
A significant trend was found toward worse sleep quality with quality of carbohydrate intake compared to the quantity.
Consumed more confectionary and noodles than rice as the carbohydrate.
Frequently consumed (≥1 time/mo) energy drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages.
Have poor dietary habits and eating patterns such as skipping breakfast and eating irregularly.
whereas a high intake of fish healthy fat and vegetables was associated with good sleep quality.
In a study, healthy men were randomly assigned to consume a controlled diet, either Low carbs plus high fat [(HF) LC/HF] 100 g carbohydrates and 255 g fat, or High carbs plus low fat [(LF) HC/LF] 600 g carbohydrates and 33 g fat, for a period of 2 d after 2 d of a lead-in balanced diet.
The evidence suggest, dietary patterns that favour High carbohydrate intakes:
Reduced SOL (sleep-onset latency; the amount of time one takes to fall asleep at night).
Reduced SWS (slow wave sleep; deep sleep that has a restorative function) and
Increased REM (rapid eye movement; functions toward memory consolidation)
whereas High Fat intakes promote lower SE (sleep efficiency; the amount of time in bed spent asleep), and promote REM and increase SWS.
The dietary patterns that include nutrients or food sources similar to the Mediterranean Diet or low-GI diets have been examined in relation to sleep outcomes.
MedDiet is characterised by high intakes of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains (rich sources of tryptophan and melatonin, high in fibre) as well as fish (essential fatty acids), olive oil (antioxidants), red wine and limited amounts of dairy, poultry, and red meat (amino acids).
People adhere to MedDiet shown 10% greater likelihood of having good overall sleep, including satisfactory sleep duration, sleep onset latency, and sleep efficiency.
In short: Scientific research on the effects of various foods on sleep enhancement is limited. Daily consumption of sleep-promoting foods, such as milk, fatty fish, cherries, and kiwifruit, has been studied for their potential benefits for immediate and acute sleep improvement without large changes in dietary patterns.