When we eat badly, we sleep badly

A new study suggests that a diet low in dietary fibre, and high in saturated fatty acids and sugar, is associated with poorer quality sleep.

Sleep time has emerged in recent years as a factor that can influence food choices. Thus, lack of sleep has been associated with a higher craving for foodstuffs with a high energy density, a potential source of dietary imbalance.

But this is the first time that a study has shown that an unbalanced diet can, already in the short term, modify the quality of sleep. This is reported by the work carried out by a team from Columbia University in New York.

Sleep and diet observed under the magnifying glass

The experiments were conducted with 26 adults (13 women and 13 men) of normal weight and aged 35 on average. Participants spent 5 nights in a sleep lab, going to bed at 10 p.m. and waking up at 7 a.m. Objective measures of sleep quality were taken using a polysomnograph. The researchers analyzed sleep data after a period of 4 days, during which food was controlled. These data were compared to those collected after one day of ad libitum food consumption.

Poor diet: poor quality sleep

The results show no significant difference in the average duration of sleep (7h35) between the controlled periods and those ad libitum. On the other hand, the quality of sleep differs, with less slow wave sleep and a longer latency time after the ad libitum period.

The qualitative analysis of food consumption also reveals that a low intake of dietary fiber and a high intake of saturated fatty acids and sugar is associated with lighter, less restorative sleep and more difficult awakening. In short, who dines badly sleeps badly!

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St-Onge MP et al. Safety and efficacy of coffee enriched with inulin and dextrin on satiety and hunger in normal volunteers. J Clin Sleep Med,12(1):19-24.

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