I’m a nutritionist and here’s a simple trick to CURE your sleep problems

IF YOU have trouble sleeping, you’ve probably tried everything from a hot bath to a meditation app.

But have you ever thought about refining your diet?


Do you want better sleep Start Eating Better, says Marie-Pierre St-Onge, Associate Professor of Nutritional Medicine at Columbia University in New YorkCredit: Alamy

Experts say this could be key to improving sleep, but it is often overlooked.

Marie-Pierre St-Onge, Associate Professor of Nutritional Medicine at Columbia University in New York, has been researching the subject for nearly a decade.

She said that food is an “undetected contributor” to good or bad sleep.

And their work has always produced the same results.

Reducing sugar and saturated fat while increasing fiber could be the trick to getting a good night’s sleep, she says.

Dr. St-Onge wrote in an article for Knowable Magazine: “Our studies over the past seven years have shown that consuming more fiber and less saturated fat and sugar during the day results in deeper, less disturbed sleep at night.

“Eating a Mediterranean diet high in fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and olive oil can be especially helpful.”

The Med diet is also low in red and processed meat and full-fat dairy products, with more fish dishes.

“In our study, those who followed this diet were 1.4 times more likely to have a good night’s sleep and 35 percent less likely to experience insomnia,” said Dr. St-Onge.

She explains that these foods are high in tryptophan.

The amino acid cannot be made by the human body itself, but it can be consumed in foods such as chicken, eggs, bananas, cheese, fish, nuts and seeds, turkey and tofu.

Tryptophan is widely used as a supplement to help relieve sleep disorders, including insomnia.

While the evidence of its effects on sleep needs bolstering, experts say it can act as a precursor to sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain.

It increases the body’s own sleep hormone melatonin.

Melatonin makes you sleepy in the evening – the opposite of cortisol, which makes us wake up in the morning.

The body produces it in the evening when it gets dark outside and stays elevated throughout the night.

Dr. St-Onge said: “Other foods – including tomatoes, pineapples, tart cherries, bananas, apples, vegetable oils, nuts and animal products – contain melatonin themselves

“Consuming such melatonin-rich foods can also increase your own melatonin levels, although research on this is sparse.”

One of the latest research by Dr. St-Onge was published in the Annual Review of Nutrition magazine in August, Good Health reported by Daily Mail.

The paper states that “full diets high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and other sources of nutritional stryptophan and melatonin” have been shown to predict favorable sleep results.

These foods are also high in fiber – and most Britons don’t eat the recommended 30g of fiber a day.

Dr. St-Onge said her work showed that fiber was a contributor to the best “sleep efficiency,” Good Health reported.

One diet high in fiber and tryptophan is the Mediterranean diet, which is considered to be the healthiest in the world after numerous research shows its disease preventive compounds.

Catherine Collins, an NHS nutritionist based in Surrey, said, “The Mediterranean diet is the gold standard of diets, there is no doubt about that.

“However, studies haven’t involved enough people or been conducted long enough to be able to say with certainty that certain components of them help sleep.”

She added that she didn’t think there was enough evidence to recommend a single diet or ingredient for improving sleep.


Meanwhile, Dr. St-Onge found that some parts of the diet can ruin sleep – namely saturated fat and sugar.

Saturated fat is the type of fat found in butter, lard, ghee, fatty meats, and cheese.

Sugar, on the other hand, in its refined form (think cookies, pastries, and carbonated drinks) is most dangerous when consumed more than 30g per day, NHS Recommendation.

In a 2016 study, 26 volunteers ate healthy for four days, followed by a day where they gobbled up to their liking on the fifth day.

Meanwhile, the researchers monitored their sleep with special devices.

Dr. St-Onge said: “On the fifth day it took them almost twice as long to fall asleep – 12 minutes longer – than the days before.”

They also spent about five minutes less time in deep sleep, which is the most restful phase of sleep, where memories are formed and cells regenerate.

It may not seem like much. But it’s actually 15 percent less deep sleep than the nights they ate well.

The good news is that the effects of a healthy diet on sleep seem to hit the same night.

Experts already know this by looking at certain foods and drinks, such as coffee, that, if consumed too close to bedtime, can keep you up all night.

Dr. St-Onge said, “Losing sleep and poor nutrition can end up being a vicious circle: Lack of sleep leads to poor eating habits, which in turn leads to poor quality sleep.

“But we can break this cycle and turn it around.

“Eating well throughout the day could lead to firmer, more restful sleep – which in turn could help make better food choices.”

There are a number of factors that contribute to our sleeping habits, from genetics to lifestyle choices, to physical and mental health conditions.

I’m a sleep expert … eat two of these fruits a day for a perfect night to sleep in

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