Certain fruits eaten an 'hour' before bed may 'significantly increase' sleep efficiency
Medical conditions and work obligations can severely compromise sleep quality, but these issues can be mitigated with the right lifestyle changes. Some clinical institutions encourage the consumption of fruit to improve the duration and quality of shut-eye. The unique nutritional profiles of cherries and kiwifruit, for example, have proven useful in improving the overall efficiency of sleep.
The Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition was among the first to highlight the benefits of kiwi for sleep.
According to research published by the journal, kiwifruit contains a host of medical compounds comprising antioxidants and serotonin.
Both molecules have proven beneficial in the treatment of sleep disorders, helping improve the onset, duration and quality of sleep.
This conclusion was drawn after scientists conducted a study on a sample of twenty-four subjects aged between 20 and 55 years old.
All participants consumed kiwifruit "an hour" before bedtime every night over a period of four weeks while different parameters of sleep were assessed.
After four weeks, the patients demonstrated reduced waking time after sleep onset and a decrease in the time it took to fall asleep (sleep latency).
In fact, keep onset latency decreased by 35.4 percent and walking time after sleep onset fell by 28.9 percent.
"Total sleep time and sleep efficiency were significantly increased," noted the authors.
They then concluded: "Kiwifruit consumption may improve sleep onset, duration and efficiency in adults with self-reported sleep disturbances."
Though further investigations are warranted to confirm these effects, there are plausible explanations for the sleep-promoting effects of kiwis.
Firstly, the serotonin content of kiwis has been shown to play a unique role in the regulation of sleep cycles.
This is because it is a chemical precursor to melatonin, the main hormone responsible for inducing sleep.
More research is needed to understand the role of antioxidants in promoting sleep, but studies have shown that decreased antioxidant levels are linked to poor sleep.
Doctor Michael Breus, Clinical psychologist and Sleep Medicine Expert added: "Kiwi isn't the only potentially sleep-promoting food out there.
"There are a number of other types of food that can aid sleep. Magnesium and potassium-rich foods help promote relaxation and circulation.
"They include dark leafy greens, bananas, nuts, seeds, citrus, tomatoes and whole grains. Foods high in calcium help boost melatonin levels."
Another sleep-promoting fruit often mentioned by healthy bodies is the Montmorency cherry.
In one pilot study led by Louisiana State University, tart cherry juice extended the sleep time of senior insomniacs by 84 minutes.
Montmorency tart cherries, which are some of the common varieties of tart cherries, come in dried, canned, juice and concentrated forms.
Not only does the fruit contain antioxidants, but agricultural studies suggest it is one of the only dietary sources of the sleep hormone melatonin.
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