Eat Your Way to Better Sleep

cheese and sleep patterns

We’ve all heard the old wives tale that eating cheese before bed can give you nightmares, but is there any truth in the myths surrounding eating certain foods before bed for a good nights sleep.

Researchers in Columbia carried out a sample study into sleep and how eating certain foods can affect a good nights sleep, either positive or negative. The Columbia Medical Center monitored 26 adults for 5 nights in which time the researchers observed their sleep patterns in correlation to particular food groups being consumed befoe sleep.

The concept was to determine which foods will help you drift off into a deep sleep. The sleep study included participants eating food that was high in protein and low in saturated fats, they could choose their own meals on the last night and where then observed throughout the night, monitoring their sleep patterns, REM and deep sleep to compare the differences.

The sample test was very small therefore further studies would be necessary to form any lasting conclusions however the results were interesting. Published in the Journla of Sleep Medicine they found that sleep quality is drastically affected by the food you eat. Eating low fat and high protein meals before bed helped the participants drift off to sleep very quickly, in less than 17 minutes on average. When they chose their own food to eat before bed they typically took almost twice as long to drift off to sleep.

The quality of sleep throughout was also affected as people who eat sugary and fatty foods woke more often and had less deep sleep which is restorative and helps healing and growth.

“This study emphasizes the fact that diet and sleep are interwoven in the fabric of a healthy lifestyle,” Dr. Nathaniel Watson, American Academy of Sleep Medicine President, said in a statement. “For optimal health, it is important to make lifestyle choices that promote healthy sleep, such as eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly.”

So maybe there is some truth in the old wives tale that cheese will give you nightmares, as it is more likely that a high protein food like cheese will help you fall into a deeper sleep and dream more.

What do you think? Have yu noticed you sleep better or worse after a big high protein meal? Of course nothing helps you drift off to sleep better than a comfy long bed to stretch out in.