Feeling sleepy? You’re not alone — struggling to get enough sleep is a challenge for almost everyone these days — but you may be able to eat your way to a better night’s sleep. It all comes down to the types of foods that you eat regularly. The key? Following a Mediterranean-style diet could be the secret to better zzz’s, according to new research.
See also: Our ancestors might hold the key to getting enough sleep.
Can diet affect sleep?
A recent literature review published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics looked at 20 studies (published between 1975 and 2021) examining the connection between diet composition (such as macronutrients) and sleep quality. Upon this review, the researchers found that certain amounts and types of macronutrients like carbohydrates and fats may be linked with sleep quality.
Specifically, the researchers found that diets higher in protein, complex carbohydrates, like fibre, and healthier fats, like unsaturated fats, are connected to better sleep quality.
See also: Just one night of sleep loss can affect your mental health, study says.
The basics of the Mediterranean diet
What does this mean for your plate? If you want to improve your sleep quality, it might be worth adopting a more Mediterranean-style diet, which tends to capture these potentially sleep-boosting foods. As the study abstract put it, “diets rich in [fibre], fruits, vegetables and anti-inflammatory nutrients and lower in saturated fat (e.g. Mediterranean diet) were associated with better sleep quality.”
As study author Katherine Wilson told Eat This, Not That!, Eat This, Not That!, “It seems that those who eat more [fibre], healthier fats (such as polyunsaturated fats), serotonin- and melatonin-rich fruits and vegetables, and anti-inflammatory nutrients (such as antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids) have better sleep.” However, while these results offer food for thought, Wilson added that “more studies are needed to explain what drives these associations.”
Related: 11 sleep myths you probably think are true.
What to eat for better sleep
While more study may be needed for definitive proof, you can try incorporating more Mediterranean-inspired foods into your daily diet now. These could include:
- Fruits and vegetables like strawberries, tomatoes and kale
- Fibre-rich complex carbohydrates like oats, brown rice and barley
- High-protein foods like salmon, eggs and shrimp
- Healthier fats like nuts, olive oil and avocado
Related: This is how I fought insomnia and won.