How sleep helps manage your health

There are many behaviors that can affect your health, and poor sleep habits is a common – and maybe unnoticed – one. Not only do poor sleep habits affect the circadian rhythm, which can lead to higher blood glucose level, but they also increase low-level stress, weight gain and heart disease risks.

importance of sleep

If you have trouble falling asleep, adopting a nightly routine before going to bed – taking a warm shower, reading a book or listening to relaxing music – may be helpful behaviors to wind down after a busy day. But what you eat can also help your sleep pattern.

importance of sleep

A recent study on sleep and diet published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine revealed a higher intake of fiber was associated with a better night of sleep. Participants in the study consumed fixed meals provided by the study, and the meals that were higher in fiber and lower in saturated fat and sugar resulted in a more restful sleep (more time in the stage of deep).

Even better, the meals that improved sleep would also work well for managing blood glucose. Foods that are higher in fiber slow the absorption of glucose into the blood stream, resulting in a slower rise in blood glucose levels. Better sleep and slowed absorption of glucose makes fiber doubly important in controlling blood glucose levels with diet. Fiber recommendations for adults range from 21 to 38 grams per day.

Not sure how to boost the fiber in your diet? Here are some tricks to filling your meals with fiber:

  • Choose bran cereal (1/2 cup, dry) or old-fashioned rolled oats (1/4 cup dry equals 15 grams carbohydrate) for breakfast or snacks.
  • Choose higher fiber fruit, such as pears, raspberries, blackberries, apples or dried dates.
  • Use beans as your high-fiber (1/2 cup cooked equals 15 grams carbohydrate and 1 ounce protein) entree at lunch or dinner (kidney beans, lentils, black beans, chickpeas or soybeans).
  • Use high-fiber sides for your meals, such as quinoa, baked sweet or white potato with skin, or peas.
  • If you’re seeking a source of fiber that is low in carbohydrate, choose 1 ounce almonds or1/2 cup frozen spinach.

importance of sleep

Effectively managing weight and other chronic diseases is associated with healthy lifestyle behaviors. Sleep studies have shown getting seven hours of sleep will reduce food cravings for sugary, salty and high-fat foods, which can result in a healthier eating plan and weight loss. Healthy food choices and being active are part of lifestyle, but sleep – a good night’s rest – is also a critical component to a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy, be active and sleep well.

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