A new study from the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine shows that what you eat may directly impact how well you sleep. More specifically, foods high in saturated fat and sugar and low on fiber caused lighter, less restorative sleep with more arousals among the 26 adults that took part in the study.
Don't worry, though. Not all delicious snacks are bad. Here's a list of foods that can actually help you sleep better.
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Peas are very low in saturated fat, with only about 0.1 grams per cup. They are also high in dietary fiber, with about 7 grams per cup. So, be sure to finish all your peas!
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Artichokes have zero grams of saturated fat and only 1.3 grams of sugar per head. Alternatively, each artichoke has about 7 grams of dietary fiber. So, it seems artichoke heads and hearts are good for our heads and hearts as well!
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3. Black beans
The average cup of black beans has about 0.4 grams of saturated fat and 3.9 grams of sugar. On the other hand, it has a whopping 29 grams of dietary fiber.
Beans, beans, they're good for your heart. The more you eat, the more you ... sleep.
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The average tablespoon of boiled lentils has zero grams of saturated fat, 0.2 grams of sugar and 1 gram of dietary fiber. So, the good far outweighs the bad.
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The average stalk of broccoli has 0.1 grams of saturated fat, 2.6 grams of sugar and 3.9 grams of dietary fiber. So, now you can add sleep to the long list of things broccoli is good for.
6. Brussels sprouts
A single cup of brussels sprouts contains about 0.1 grams of saturated fat, 1.9 grams of sugar and 3.3 grams of dietary fiber. That's the sort of ratio that sprouts more restful sleep.
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The average cup of raspberries contains zero grams of saturated fat, 5 grams of sugar and 8 grams of dietary fiber. So, the little red berries are on the good list!
Holy guacamole! A California avocado contains about 2.9 grams of saturated fat, 0.4 grams of sugar and 9 grams of dietary fiber. So, while it has more saturated fat than some of the other foods on this list, it still helps you sleep better. Good news for guac fans everywhere.
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A cup of blackberries contains zero grams of saturated fat, 7 grams of sugar and 8 grams of dietary fiber ... just enough to pull it out of the black and onto the good list.
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The average cup of cooked oatmeal contains about 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 1.1 grams of sugar and 4 grams of dietary fiber. So, it turns out oatmeal isn't just a good way to start your day off. It's also a good way to end it.
A medium-sized pear contains zero grams of saturated fat, 17 grams of sugar and 6 grams of dietary fiber. So, this fruit and sleep make the perfect pair!
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12. Whole wheat pasta
Unlike standard spaghetti, a cup of whole wheat spaghetti contains zero grams of saturated fat, only 1 gram of sugar and 6 grams of dietary fiber. So, this is one of the rare cases where eating pasta is actually good for your health.
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A cup of walnuts may have a lot of fat, but it has dietary fiber, too. And walnuts contain a sleep-inducing amino acid called tryptophan and a hormone called melatonin, which helps you fall asleep faster.
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Like walnuts, almonds are high in fat and contain dietary fiber. But they also contain magnesium, a mineral which helps with quality sleep.
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15. Cherry juice
Cherry juice has zero grams of fat and low dietary fiber and sugars. Cherries also boost levels of melatonin which, again, helps you fall asleep.
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While fat, sugar and dietary fiber per bowl of cereal depend on the cereal and how you eat it (whole milk? Skim? Almond milk?), carbohydrates increase the availability of sleep-inducing tryptophan in the bloodstream. Just go for the low-sugar, whole grain variety for the healthiest version of the snack ...
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Diet and falling asleep
According to the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, the average time it takes a person to fall asleep is also affected by diet. During the first four days of the study, participants consumed a controlled diet and fell asleep in just 17 minutes.
On the fifth day of the study, however, participants were allowed to eat whatever they wanted, and their sleep time suffered. On this free choice day, the average time it took the participants to fall asleep increased from 17 minutes to 29 minutes.
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Put the brake on carb intake
This study found that carb intake can affect a person's internal clock while also altering their core body temperature and nocturnal melatonin secretion. Not good.
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Countless studies have shown that sleep deprivation can lead to increased levels of cortisol, a so-called stress hormone that seems to stimulate the appetite. So, unhealthy foods not only make you sleep less. They also ultimately make you crave more unhealthy foods. Talk about a vicious cycle!