Eat More Fruits and Vegetables to Improve Your Sleep, Study Recommends



By Adebowale Bello, Freelance Health Writer 

Some common fruits and vegetables available across Africa.

Some common fruits and vegetables available across Africa. Click on image to enlarge.


“I can't sleep” - If you've ever uttered these words, you're not alone. Sometimes, I also stare at the ceiling while doing a countdown in my head as I wait for the precious sleep to arrive.


Sleep is an essential part of your health and well-being, however many people have trouble sleeping. For some people, it's a one-off thing, for others, they dread the night and may resort to sleep-inducing drugs.


If you have difficulty sleeping, you don't always need to resort to drugs. Simple lifestyle changes to your diet among others, may be just what you need to help you sleep better.


How Does My Diet Affect My Sleep?


When you sleep, your body gets to work to produce benefits such as - strengthening your memories, restoring your body balance through repair and growth while fortifying your immune system. After a good night's sleep, you're left feeling refreshed. 


However, several factors can disrupt your sleep such as stress, anxiety, medical conditions and even your diet. This is why it is important to eat foods containing nutrients that promote relaxation and better sleep quality.


A recent study carried out in Finland, comprising 5,043 adult participants discovered that the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the better your sleep. 


The participants were categorized into 3 groups - short sleepers, normal sleepers and long sleepers. In comparison to normal sleepers, results showed that short sleepers ate 37 grams less fruits and vegetables while for long sleepers, it was 73 grams less.


According to the study, the lower your consumption of fruits and vegetables, the less likely you are to have a sound sleep.


Timo Partonen, M.D., a research professor at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) in Helsinki, Finland says, “Sleeping fewer than seven hours per night or more than nine hours per night was associated with reduced consumption of fruits and vegetables.”


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


What Fruits and Vegetables Can I Eat?


Many fruits and vegetables contain essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and potassium which promote your health and are also rich in antioxidants, vitamins and natural sedatives like tryptophan.


Some fruits available in Africa that can help you sleep better include,

  • Banana
  • Pineapple
  • Date
  • Apple
  • Pawpaw
  • Grapes


Some African vegetables that improve your sleep are,

  • African Spinach ("efo - tete" in Yoruba)
  • Pumpkin (Ugu) 
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes


Bottom Line


You can improve your sleep quality by incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet. Establishing other helpful tips such as a regular sleep schedule and screen time limits can ensure that you get the right amount of sleep and wake up feeling refreshed.



Thapa Anupa, Lahti Tuuli, Maukonen Mirkka, Partonen Timo. Consumption of fruits and vegetables and its association with sleep duration among Finnish adult population: a nationwide cross-sectional study. Front. Nut. Vol 11, 2024. DOI: 10.3389/fnut.2024.1319821. Available from here.  



Related: Normal sleep: What Africans should know



Published: June 9, 2024

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