This is a HUGE topic, and, like everything, hugely dependant on the individual!
There are lots of foods that affect sleep and lots of WAYS of eating (I hate the word ‘diet’) that affect foods.
So, for the sake of you not falling asleep (Ha! See what I did there?!) in the middle of this, here is a lovely little table for you to glance at:
Sleep and various Diets:
|Diet:||Effect on Sleep:|
|Atkins (60% fat 30% protein, 10% carb)||– Increases (SWS) slow wave sleep (this is the deep sleep that is the most restful, increasing physical and mental energy).|
– Decreases REM (the stage when dreams occur and the muscles are paralysed, except the heart and lungs).
– 48hrs after beginning – increased daytime sleepiness, worsened mood/concentration, increased bad dreams.
|High fat/Ketogenic*||– Increase sleepiness (slight increase SWS, slight decrease REM)|
– A high fat meal – increased sleepiness 3 hours post meal compared to high carb meal.
|Low fat, high carb (10% protein, 10% fat, 80% carb)||– SWS duration is greatly reduced, REM increased.|
|Fasting||– Decreased SWS, REM and sleep duration.|
|Mid-day meal||– A few hours post lunch – people report feeling less alert, tired and underperform in comparison to pre-lunch.|
|Tryptophan depletion (see below for high tryptophan foods)||– Decreased SWS, increase wakefulness and REM sleep (BAH! We need those tryptophan foods!)|
|High GI vs low GI diet||– Low GI meal decreased the time it takes to get to sleep in comparison to high GI.|
|Low salt diet (less than 500mg daily)**||– Disturbed sleep patterns – decreased REM, and SWS, increased wakefulness|
|Low magnesium diet (my hand shakes with horror of typing this!)|
|– Increased wakefulness, decreased SWS|
– Sleep is disorganised (spikes in brain excitability)
|Alcohol||– REM suppression, difficulty falling asleep, difficulty remaining asleep|
*HEALTH HACK! If undertaking a ketogenic diet, ensure sufficient amounts of omega-3s are consumed to balance the omega 3:6 ratio (or the diet is very inflammatory!)
** Nutrition Australia’s guidelines for salt intake is to keep it below 6g daily (6000mg), so it well above the ‘low salt diet above, this is still important to take note of as some health professionals are still advocating a very low salt diet.
- HEALTH HACK – it’s actually more important to choose the right TYPE rather than the amount – choose a pink Himalayan salt and ditch the table salt (irritating to the kidneys).
So why is this important?
I bang on about this all the time, but it is the basis of health – treating the individual – there will be a way of way of eating that will agree with some, and not with others.
It’s important to work this out.
|Tryptophan||Bananas, beef, beans, dairy products, cottage cheese, fish, legumes, lentils, oats, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans|
|Magnesium||Almonds, barley, brewer’s yeast, cashews, cocoa, lima beans, figs, molasses, parsnips, soybeans, wholegrains, kelp, eggs, seeds, cherries, green leafy veggies, broccoli, pineapple, oats|
|Omega 3s***||Flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, salmon, spinach, grass-fed meats|
*** It is really hard to get sufficient amount of omega 3s from food (although the high omega 3 foods should still be eaten in abundance!) – I advise to supplement with a good quality fish oil capsule, and store in the fridge once open (they can go rancid).
So here is a great start to get you to understanding that the way we eat, what we eat and the combinations of foods are all going to affect our sleep!