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How does sleep affect your nutrition?

The relationship between sleep and nutrition is circular. What you eat can influence the quality of your sleep and the quality of your sleep can affect your hunger and food choices, affecting your overall nutrition. Some studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep increase their food intake, especially of high-calorie foods, which can lead to weight gain. In addition, mild sleep deprivation can interfere with the normal function of hormones that help control appetite and hunger.

According to the CDC, adults aged 18-64 years old need 7-9 hours of sleep per night and about 7-8 hours per night after age 65. In the United States, 1 in 3 adults does not get enough sleep on a regular basis. Insufficient sleep is associated with cognitive decline, poor emotional control, decreased attention and focus, and impaired memory. Good sleep is essential for physical and mental health and allows the body the opportunity to rest and recover.

A high-fiber diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat proteins is rich in B vitamins that are linked to improved sleep outcomes due to effects on the sleep hormone melatonin. Kiwifruit is high in vitamins C and E as well as potassium and folate, and tart cherries contain melatonin, serotonin, and other phytonutrients. Some research has found that eating these two fruits may help improve sleep and even help older adults with insomnia.

Good Habits for Good Sleep:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Sleep in a dark, quiet, comfortable environment.
  • Get some activity daily (but do not exercise right before bedtime).
  • Limit the use of electronics before bed including tv and smartphones.
  • Relax before bedtime. A warm bath or reading might help.
  • Avoid alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine late in the day.
  • Avoid nicotine.
  • Consult a health care professional if you have ongoing sleep problems.

Things to Avoid:

  • Fatty or high-protein foods just before bed because they take longer to digest
  • Spicy foods may lead to heartburn
  • Caffeine is a stimulant and may keep you awake
  • Alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycle

Try this tasty, whole grain recipe that may benefit your sleep.

Oatmeal with Cherries, Kiwi, and Almonds

Adapted from


  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup milk of choice
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons dried tart cherries (unsweetened)
  • 1 kiwi, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sliced almonds

Microwave instructions:

Place the oats, milk and water into a medium microwave safe bowl and stir together. Heat in the microwave on high for 2 minutes. Then add 15-second increments until the oatmeal is puffed and softened.
Note: This is only necessary the first time you make it. Then you can gauge the exact time needed and repeat in the future. Stir before serving
Assembly: Stir in the toppings and let rest for a few minutes to cool. Thin with a little more milk or water, if desired. Serve warm.