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Eat well to rest well

Getting inadequate sleep, usually defined as less than 5-6 hours of sleep a night, can increase your risk for obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Inadequate sleep increases cravings– usually for sweets – because the body is looking for the energy it doesn't have naturally. But did you also know that what you eat can impact how well you sleep?

Studies show a diet lacking in fiber, but higher in saturated fat and sugar can be a nightmare for getting quality sleep. People in these studies that ate foods higher in fiber spent more time in a deep, restful sleep. But those who ate a diet that was higher in saturated fat and sugar not only showed fewer hours of deep sleep, but also woke up more frequently during the night.

Here are some tips on increasing fiber and lowering saturated fat and sugar in your diet:

Fiber

  • look for three or more grams of fiber per serving in grains like bread, rice, pasta, and cereals
  • eat whole fruits and vegetables whenever possible; the more you peel, cut or cook them the lower their fiber content generally is
  • add beans and lentils to soups, salads, casseroles or just heat-n-serve
  • include a fruit and/or vegetable with each meal

Saturated fat

  • use liquid oils in cooking and baking instead of butter or lard
  • choose lean beef (round and loin cuts) and lean pork (leg and loin cuts), at least 85/15 ground beef
  • limit fatty cuts of beef and pork and processed meats
  • look for cheese made from low fat milk like mozzarella, string, Swiss lace, part skim ricotta, skim or 1% cottage cheese

Sugar

  • avoid sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, lemonade, sweetened coffees, and even juice
  • cut back on desserts and candy; when you want a treat have a smaller portion
  • choose unsweetened fruits, nut butters, milks, etc.
  • select dark chocolate when you want some chocolate as it is much lower in sugar

Eating healthier won't guarantee you will sleep like a baby tonight, but it certainly may help. Plus, you can rest well knowing that these same recommendations can help the heart, lower blood pressure and reduced rates of diabetes and obesity.

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