“We found that sleep quality appears to be affected by what we eat, with fiber and saturated fat particularly important factors”. “Our message is that a diet high in fiber and low in saturated fat and sugar is associated with better sleep patterns. For a good night’s sleep we recommend increasing fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and eating less processed foods. “

Results of a study showed that sleep duration did not differ after the days of controlled feeding vs the day of self-selected food intake. However, the quality of sleep was different, with less of the deep slow-wave sleep (P = .043) and longer times taken to get to sleep (P = .008) after the day of free eating.

Percentage of energy from saturated fat predicted less slow-wave sleep (P = .0422), and higher percentages of energy from sugar and other carbohydrates were associated with more arousals (P = .0320 and.0481, respectively).

“Results from that part of the study showed that people tend to overeat when sleep restricted and they particularly increase their intake of fat,” she explained. “We were also interested to see if the reverse is true — that if what you eat affects how well you sleep, and the current results suggest that this does indeed seem to be the case.”

“Vicious Cycle”

“If sleep is restricted you are setting yourself up for a poor diet with increased fat and sugar and that in turn will further adversely affect sleep. So it becomes a perpetual cycle.” “High carbohydrate intake delays circadian rhythms and reduces melatonin secretion, which would delay sleep onset. Hormones also come into play, as there is a heightened awareness of the reward value of food when sleep restricted. And when we are tired our decision making is not so disciplined, so we are more likely to give in to temptation to eat unhealthy food,” she said. It suggested diet-based recommendations may be warranted for those who have sleep disorders, including insomnia, short sleep duration, and poor overall sleep quality. “Increasing understanding of the impact of dietary intake on nocturnal sleep will have many important and practical ramifications for public health,” they conclude.

J Clin Sleep Med. 2016;12:19-24.

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