When it comes to your health, it's important to consider both sleep and food. While it's true that humans can go up to 21 days without eating, studies have shown that a person can only live a little more than a week and a half without sleep at all. To get the best of both worlds, it's best to eat the most hearty meal before mid-afternoon and eat a light dinner of 500 calories or less. This includes some chicken, extra-lean meat, or fish to help curb midnight snack attacks.
It's not just dinner that can affect your sleep. Certain foods and drinks contain high amounts of antioxidants and specific nutrients, such as magnesium and melatonin, which are known to improve sleep by helping you fall asleep faster or stay asleep longer. On the other hand, eating white rice in moderation is beneficial for sleep due to its relatively low amounts of fiber and nutrients. However, it is best to consume it at least 1 hour before bedtime.
When it comes to weight loss, eating too late at night can impair sleep and is worse for people trying to lose weight. With up to 35% of American adults suffering from insomnia symptoms, it's understandable that there is a strong desire to take advantage of food and drink for better sleep. Exercise is also beneficial for improving sleep quality. A recent survey by the National Sleep Foundation found that 84% of adults admitted to feeling tired during the week, mainly because they are not sleeping well or because they are not getting enough sleep.
It is important to note that more research will be needed to identify the sleep benefits of different diets and to test the comparative effects of those diets on sleep. Dr. Truong, a Stanford-trained sleep physician with board certifications in internal and sleep medicine, emphasizes that with enough sleep, people feel better, work more focused and manage their emotions better.