A new study from the Columbia University Medical Center in New York found that eating less fibre, more saturated fat and more sugar is associated with lighter, less restorative, and more disrupted sleep.
Results show that greater fibre intake predicted more time spent in the stage of deep, slow wave sleep. In contrast, a higher percentage of calories from saturated fat predicted less slow wave sleep. Greater sugar intake also was associated with more arousals from sleep.
The researchers were surprised that a single day of greater fat intake and lower fibre could influence sleep parameters.
Diet and sleep interconnected
The findings emphasize the fact that diet and sleep are connected in a healthy lifestyle. For optimal health it is important to make lifestyle choices that promote healthy sleep, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
The study also found that participants fell asleep faster after eating fixed meals provided by a nutritionist, which were lower in saturated fat and higher in protein than meals they chose themselves. It took participants an average of 29 minutes to fall asleep after consuming foods and beverages of their choice, but only 17 minutes to fall asleep after eating controlled meals.
The randomized, crossover study involved 26 adults -- 13 men and 13 women -- who had a normal weight and an average age of 35 years. During five nights in a sleep lab, participants spent 9 hours in bed from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., sleeping for 7 hours and 35 minutes on average per night.
Objective sleep data were gathered nightly by polysomnograhy. Sleep data were analyzed from night 3, after three days of controlled feeding, and night 5, after one day of ad libitum food intake.
According to the authors, the study suggests that diet-based recommendations might be used to improve sleep in those with poor sleep quality. However, future studies are needed to evaluate this relationship.
Source: J Clin Sleep Med, January 2016.
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