The Effect of the Mediterranean Diet on Sleep
A study on 1,936 Italian adults found that those who ate better were much more likely to sleep well compared to those who did not.
Researchers evaluated diets by calculating how well people stuck to a Mediterranean Diet. This diet, which includes lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fish, is known to be healthy for the heart. While the Mediterranean Diet is by no means the only good diet, it is a useful proxy for quantifying diet quality.
Among Italians who closely adhered to the diet (75-100th percentiles), 72% had overall good sleep quality with only 28% reporting poor sleep quality.
Among those who did not adhere closely to the diet, only 59% had good sleep and 41% had poor sleep. This relationship was found to be highly statistically significant.
How Does the Mediterranean Diet Improve Sleep?
While we do not know the exact mechanisms behind this result, further analysis showed that this effect was driven by improvements in all aspects of sleep.
Those who ate better slept longer, took less time to fall asleep and were less sleepy during the day.
Effect of BMI on Diet and Sleep
This effect only worked for normal weight and overweight individuals. Researchers are not exactly sure why this is the case.
Those who were normal weight had over twice the odds of getting sleep when they adhered to a Mediterranean Diet, compared to those who did not.
However, obese participants did not show any significant differences based on their diets.
Keys to Health
This adds to the growing amount of evidence showing that diet matters for more than just weight loss. It influences how we sleep and how we age as well.
While the Mediterranean Diet is not the only good diet available, it is a good place to start as it has been well validated by scientific research and includes some delicious recipes from around Italy and Greece.
Further Reading: Mediterranean Diet and the Brain
Did you know that the Mediterranean diet has been shown to potentially help your age well?
In a study of 2,258 New Yorkers, researchers found that individuals who strongly adhered to a Mediterranean Diet had a significantly lower risk of Alzheimer's Disease.