The Link Between Nutrition & Sleep

While much is known about the effects of sleep deprivation and its links to weight, what about the flipside? That is, does nutrition have an effect on sleep health and sleep disorders? Turns out that researchers have accumulated a mouthful of science on how nutrition impacts sleep quality, circadian rhythms, and sleep architecture, and also plays a role in disorders such an insomnia, hypersomnia, and sleep apnea.

Unfortunately, there are no conclusive studies that point to one particular diet being the best for sleep. But various sources DO suggest that a variety of whole foods and a low-glycemic diet is helpful in improving sleep quality.

In one particular study that looked at nutritional intake and sleep quality, it was found that optimal average sleep time was associated with the highest variety of foods. Both short and long sleep times were associated with decreased food variety. While you may think a longer sleep time is something to aspire to - it is actually more commonly associated with chronic or debilitating illnesses.


How Can I Change My Nutritional Intake To Help Me Sleep?

Broadly speaking, your nutritional intake for sleep looks very much like a diet that you might be using if you were trying to lose weight. A sleep-promoting diet is varied and rich in fruits and vegetables and whole grains, as well as lean proteins. A nutritionally rich diet that is healthy for sleep also manages portion size, and limits amounts of high-sugar and heavily processed foods you take in each day. Nutrients found in a range of healthy foods provide particular benefits to sleep.

What Should I Be Avoiding?

While many foods are healthful to sleep, other foods can actually undermine your nightly rest. Foods that can interfere with sleep include high-sugar, high-carbohydrate, heavily-processed foods. The same junk food that’s problematic for your waistline can also be troublesome to your sleep. Eating sugary foods throughout the day can cause pronounced changes to blood sugar, which can bring on feelings of fatigue that can alter your daily routine and your sleep patterns at night. Large meals high in carbohydrates can have a similar effect on blood sugar. Eating heavy meals close to bedtime interferes with the body’s process of winding down for sleep.


Staying Hydrated

You do want to drink as much water as you can before bed. Staying hydrated throughout the day promotes alertness and focus, and can help minimise shifts in energy levels. Dehydration leads to feeling sluggish and tired, which can eventually disrupt sleep patterns.

By the time you feel thirsty, chances are, you are already dehydrated! Drinking water throughout the day can help you maintain energy levels and avoid dehydration, setting you up for a good night’s sleep later.


When creating a plan for a healthier lifestyle, don’t just think about your waking health. Make your sleep health a factor too. Selecting food choices that are good for your overall wellbeing and your evening shut-eye will yield amazing rewards in no time at all. The process of getting a good night's rest is a combination of many factors - if you're not sure where to start, try our guide to Sleep Rituals.