Sleep Type: Your Personalized Plan to Fight Disease

There’s another reason to think twice about your diet: What you eat may determine how well you sleep. A new groundbreaking study established 4 different sleep types based on your diet, each of which determines your risk for specific diseases. Discover your sleep type and learn how to minimize your health risks and get the sleep of your dreams!

Sleep Type: Your Personalized Plan to Fight Disease

Sleep is crucial to overall health and wellness – as is food. A breakthrough study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Michael Grandner examined the correlation between these sleep and diet, and confirmed that habitual eating patterns are associated with habitual sleep patterns. This compelling research may mean that you can promote healthy sleep by changing your diet.

Additionally, sleep can be used to prevent disease. According to this study, your sleep type determines your risk for certain illnesses; so by solving your individual sleep issues, you can minimize your risk for conditions like obesity, heart disease and stroke. They key is selecting the best combinations of vitamins, nutrients and calories for optimal sleep – a prescription unique to your personal sleep type.

Choose the type that sounds most like you out of the four categories below and discover what to eat to help minimize your disease risk. Plus, see solutions to enjoy the health benefits of an optimized sleep schedule.

Sleep Type #1: Very Short Sleepers (0 to 4 Hours a Night)

Very short sleepers often feel lethargic and groggy throughout their day. They have low energy levels and poor focus. Out of all the sleep types, they have the least variety in their food choices. They’re often dehydrated and don’t eat enough carbohydrates or foods rich in disease-fighting antioxidants like lycopene.

Risks: This type of sleeper is at greater risk for obesity and diabetes compared to those who are ideal sleepers. Sleep deprivation leaves your body less effective at using insulin, a hormone that helps to moderate the amount of sugar in your cells. Just four nights of sleeping four hours or less is enough to make the body less responsive to insulin. This puts you at risk for high blood sugar and when insulin resistance becomes habitual, it turns into diabetes.

Additionally, the very short sleeper is at risk for weight gain. Sleep deprivation simultaneously slows down your metabolism and causes levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, to rise, which increases your appetite. You’ll eat more food, but burn fewer calories – a recipe for packing on the pounds.

Diet Solutions: Very short sleepers can improve their sleep by infusing their diets with high antioxidant foods. Start your morning off with a glass of tomato juice, which is rich in lycopene. You can also try eating red peppers or pink grapefruit, which are full of healthy benefits.

Sleep Type #2: Short Sleepers (5 to 6 Hours a Night)

Short sleepers consume the highest amount of calories. Their diets tend to lack vitamin C and selenium, nutrients that help protect against illnesses and reduce inflammation, respectively.

Risks: Short sleepers are at risk for stroke and heart attack. Research showed that people who regularly got fewer than six hours of sleep a night had four times the risk for stroke, even if they weren’t overweight or had no genetic history of stroke. Short sleepers also should be concerned about heart disease. Those who slept six hours or less were two times more likely to have a heart attack.

Diet Solutions: The good news is that it’s easy to add vitamin C to your diet. Try infusing your water with citrus. You can even purchase a citrus infuser to add lemon, lime or orange to your water, while confining the pulp or rind to the bottom of your glass. To help get more selenium into your diet, try cooking with mushrooms or eating a few Brazil nuts each day.

Sleep Type #3: Over-Sleepers (9 or More Hours a Night)

Over-sleepers often sleep over 9 hours a night but are often still overtired. People in this sleep type don’t get enough of the stimulant theobromine or the compound choline, which is important for brain health.

Risks: Over-sleeping may be a sign of hypothyroidism, a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of certain hormones. Other consequences of hypothyroidism include excessive tiredness, low energy and a slowed metabolism. People with hypothyroidism are more likely to oversleep, sleep during the day and always feel tired, no matter how long they slept the night before.

Diet Solutions: If you’re an over-sleeper, increase your theobromine intake by eating 1 ounce of dark chocolate per day. Add choline to your diet by eating more eggs, turkey, or scallops.

Sleep Type #4: Ideal Sleepers (7 to 8 Hours a Night)

The ideal sleeper has the most variety in their diet; they eat well-balanced meals with necessary nutrients and drink the most water. When your brain is getting a diverse amount of nutrients and is well hydrated, it won’t insist on more food.

Learn more about how to become an ideal sleeper and set your perfect bedtime. 

Q: I end up overeating because it makes me feel better and I never really get full. I'd like to lose weight but this makes it hard. Any suggestions?

A: Being persistently hungry can cause big trouble. So can overeating for comfort/pleasure. These two behaviors, say researchers from Baylor University's Children's Nutrition Research Center, are controlled deep within your brain by serotonin-producing neurons, but operate separately from each other — one in the hypothalamus, the other in the midbrain. They both can, however, end up fueling poor nutritional choices and obesity.

Eating for Hunger

When hunger is your motive for eating, the question is: "Does your body know when you've had enough?" Well, if you are overweight, obese or have diabetes you may develop leptin resistance and your "I am full" hormone, leptin, can't do its job. The hormone's signal to your hypothalamus is dampened, and you keep eating.

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