Is This The Best Diet For The Best Sleep?

Consuming a healthy and well-balanced diet can improve the overall quality of your sleep, according to a 2022 review published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Researchers from Columbia University and the University of Chicago set out to determine how macronutrients and dietary patterns can affect sleep quality (via Mindbodygreen). After analyzing 20 clinical studies published between 1975 and 2021, researchers found that diets high in fiber, protein, complex carbohydrates, and fruits and vegetables were all associated with better sleep quality. Meanwhile, diets high in sugar were associated with poorer quality of sleep.

Although the exact reason is unclear, researchers suspect this is because plant-based diets tend to support the production of serotonin and melatonin, both of which are hormones involved in the sleep-wake cycle, while fiber-rich and protein-rich diets are linked to healthier and more diverse gut microbiomes, which can affect sleep measures (per Mindbodygreen). On the flip side, diets rich in sugars and refined carbohydrates can be linked to weight gain, which can disrupt sleep quality.

The Mediterranean diet can improve sleep quality

One diet that includes all of these components is the Mediterranean diet. According to EatingWell, there are a number of Mediterranean foods that can help improve your overall quality of sleep. For instance, dark leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard are high in magnesium and B vitamins, both of which can help promote sleep. In addition, fruits like cherries, berries, and pineapple can increase the production of melatonin, while kiwis can help boost serotonin levels in the brain, helping you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Legumes (beans and lentils), are a staple of the Mediterranean diet and are incredibly nutrient-dense, EatingWell reports. In fact, they're loaded with fiber, protein, magnesium, and vitamin B, all of which can help promote healthy sleep. Additionally, nuts like almonds, pistachios, and walnuts are a great source of melatonin, and fatty fish, including salmon, tuna, and trout, are full of protein, B vitamins, vitamin D, and tryptophan — which increases the production of melatonin.