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A Poor Diet May Disrupt Your Slumber

Eat well to sleep well, suggests new research, which has found that eating a diet low in fiber, high in sugar, and high in saturated fat may lead to poor sleep quality. Published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, the study included 26 adults, aged 30 to 45, who had healthy weights and good sleep habits (seven to nine hours per night). During five consecutive nights, the participants were assigned to spend nine hours in bed in a sleep lab. For the first four days, the participants ate a controlled diet; on the fifth day, they ate what they wanted. After researchers analyzed several measurements of the participants’ sleep quality, including the duration of their slow wave sleep (deep sleep), the time it took for them to fall sleep, and how often they stirred while sleeping, they found that:

  • The participants took longer to fall asleep and spent less time in deep sleep after their day of free eating compared to their days eating the controlled diet.
  • Three specific food patterns were linked to sleep variables on the fifth night: Higher fiber intake was linked to more time spent in deep sleep, a greater proportion of calories from saturated fat was linked to less time spent in deep sleep, and a greater proportion of calories from sugar was linked to more arousals from sleep.

These findings suggest that a poor diet could result in lighter, less restorative sleep. However, this study only included good sleepers, so more research is needed to understand if a healthier diet could help people with insomnia and other sleep disorders. Previous research suggests the inverse of this study may also be true—that poor sleep can lead to overeating. So, it’s probably a good idea to get the recommended seven to nine hours of ZZZ’s and to eat a diet full of fiber-rich whole foods and low in saturated fats and sugar to keep yourself shipshape.

Source: Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine

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