If you struggle to fall asleep, you’ve probably already tried some of the more popular suggestions out there — sticking to a regular sleep schedule, putting the phone away before you close your eyes, and getting enough exercise. While these are all useful tips with valid science behind them, you may find that they are not enough on their own. If you’re looking for another change to help improve your sleep quality, consider taking a look at the foods you eat.
While we’ve long known that food choices are linked to sleep quality, a new study finds that a certain eating habit, following the Mediterranean diet, can especially help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep through the night. The new study, published in Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, review twenty previous studies published between 1975 and 2021 comparing diet composition with sleep quality. The researchers highlighted the Mediterranean diet as one that has the main qualities associated with better sleep quality.
“It appears that those who eat more fiber, healthy fats (such as polyunsaturated fats) and fruits and vegetables rich in serotonin, melatonin, and anti-inflammatory nutrients (such as antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids) sleep better,” says study author Catherine Wilson. Eat this, not that! of the results. “But, more studies are needed to explain what drives these associations.”
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Wilson adds that a range of other habits, including limiting caffeine intake and screen use, can also help improve sleep quality and vary from person to person, “almost like your fingerprint.”
Even when it comes to your food choices, it’s worth the 360-degree view. So, if a certain habit change doesn’t work for you, it’s worth trying a few other things until you find the routine that works best for you.
Says Michael A. Granner, Ph.D., MTR, author of sleep and health.
Taken together, the evidence suggests that generally healthy eating patterns, particularly those that provide adequate nutritional balance with most calories ingested in greater concentration in the middle of the day, may be more beneficial for sleep health. Concern about individual foods and nutrients may be missing The Big Picture “.
To learn more about how to wake up well rested, check out these 20 ways to double your sleep quality.