For a better night’s sleep, try eating more of these foods, researchers say

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Fruits and veggies are an important part of a balanced diet — and also balanced sleep.

A new study from Finland looked into how fruit and vegetable consumption in Finnish adults impacted sleep duration.

The research considered data from the National FinHealth 2017 Study, which involved 5,043 adults over the age of 18.

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These respondents reported their dietary consumption as well as their sleep habits, the latter of which was compared across three sleep categories: short, normal and long.

Compared to normal sleepers, short sleepers consumed 37 fewer grams of fruits and vegetables per day, while long sleepers consumed 73 fewer grams per day.

woman smiles while eating a salad

Consuming more fruits and veggies helps to support the right amount of sleep, a new study has found. (iStock)

The study concluded that there is a “consistent pattern where deviation from normal sleep duration was associated with decreased [fruit and vegetable] consumption.”

These findings suggest the need for “considering sleep patterns in dietary intervention,” researchers added. 

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“Further research, including longitudinal studies, is needed to better understand the mechanisms underlying these associations,” the study noted. 

Study co-author Timo Partonen, M.D., a research professor at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in Helsinki, Finland, reacted to his findings in a conversation with Fox News Digital.

woman sleeping in a bed

The study found that sleeping fewer than seven hours per night or more than nine hours per night was associated with reduced fruit and veggie consumption. (iStock)

Sleeping fewer than seven hours per night or more than nine hours per night was associated with reduced consumption of fruits and vegetables, he noted.

“The key takeaway is that shortage of sleep coincides with an unhealthy diet,” Partonen said. “This means that weight-watching programs need to pay attention to sleep habits as well … as it may ruin or promote the outcome.”

“The key takeaway is that shortage of sleep coincides with an unhealthy diet.”

While the study took into account each person’s chronotype (classifying people as an “early bird” or “night owl”), the impact of this trait on the link between sleep duration and fruit and veggie consumption was “minimal,” the researcher said.

Partonen identified this study as “cross-sectional by design,” which means the researchers were not able to analyze any “causal relationships.”

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Based on these findings, people should eat more fruits and vegetables daily to get better sleep, he recommended.

“Sleep, nutrition and physical activity form a unity,” he said. “A positive change in one of these is reflected in a positive change in the other two.”

a mother and daughter prep vegetables in the kitchen

The study findings highlight the need to consider sleep patterns during dietary intervention, researchers said. (iStock)

New Jersey-based dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade also reacted to these findings, telling Fox News Digital that it is “not surprising that increasing your dietary intake of fruits and vegetables may improve both sleep quality and quantity.” 

She added, “Fruits and vegetables contain a variety of nutrients that can support healthy sleep. Some fruits, such as tart cherries and bananas, contain melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.”

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Eating these fruits may increase melatonin levels in the body, which will promote better sleep onset and quality, according to the dietitian.

Embracing a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can also help increase antioxidant intake, she said, which can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. 

Sleep may improve as these factors are reduced, Palinski-Wade added.

man picks fruits and veggies out of the fridge

Multiple fruits and veggies contain nutrients that support better sleep, a nutritionist said. (iStock)

Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale are good sources of magnesium, a nutrient that can also help support sleep, the dietitian said.

“Diets lacking in magnesium have been found to increase the risk of insomnia, so it makes sense that eating a magnesium-rich diet may improve sleep,” she added.

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Fruits and veggies like spinach and tomatoes also contain an amino acid called tryptophan, which is a “precursor to serotonin,” a neurotransmitter involved in producing melatonin and aiding in sleep regulation, according to Palinski-Wade.

“By increasing your dietary intake of tryptophan, you can promote relaxation and improvements in falling and staying asleep,” she said.

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