Categories: Sleep Science

Sleep Studies Part 2: Diet and Sleep

Sleep Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine studied the dietary divergences among individuals with diverse sleep patterns. What they found in a diet and sleep study, as published in the journal Appetite, was striking.

Study respondents who reported sleeping the recommended seven to eight hours per night ate fewer calories than those who said they slept only five to six hours per night. The researchers also noted that more diverse diets were seen in the people who slept seven to eight hours nightly, rather than those who slept either more or less than the recommended amount.

The Diet and Sleep Study Details

Headed by Michael Grandner, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology, the team of researchers grouped the participants into four average sleep duration categories:

  • Very short sleep: Those who slept less than five hours per night.
  • Short sleep: Those who slept five to six hours per night.
  • Standard sleep: Those who slept seven to eight hours per night.
  • Long sleep: Those who slept more than nine hours per night.

After grouping the participants into sleep duration categories, the researchers examined the participants’ dietary intake. What they found was some noteworthy similarities within various categories.

The Diet and Sleep Study Findings

The standard, or normal, sleepers were found to consume the widest variety of nutrients, thereby eating the most healthful diets. The very short sleepers had the least nutrient diversity; the researchers note that a sleep-deprived brain may be at play here reflecting poor food choices and unhealthy snack eating. Very short sleepers also ingested less carbs and lycopene (found in tomatoes, bell peppers, and carrots), and also reported drinking less water.

Short sleepers lacked selenium (found in seafood and turkey) and vitamin C, but had more vitamins (lutein, phytonutrients, and zeaxanthin) indicative of  green, leafy vegetables.

Lastly, the long sleepers had low levels of lauric acid, choline, and theobromine; found in things like chocolate, tea, coconut oils, eggs, poultry, salad greens. Long slumberers also drank more booze, but ate less carbs.

The Diet and Sleep Study Takeaway

While all these nutrients numbers are enough to make you dizzy, Grandner says to not get caught up in the individual figures. Rather, the takeaway is that diet and sleep are related, more so than what research previously revealed.

Inadequate sleep, whether quantity or quality, can increase your risk of developing diseases such as diabetes, depression, heart disease and obesity. The important point is to consume a wide variety of foods chock-full of an assortment of essential vitamins and nutrients.

In a nutshell: Grandner said, the important takeway is that “sleep is critical for health. We know this.”  But then again so is diet, and the two are interconnected. In one way or the other.

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    Amber Merton

    Amber Merton is an accomplished writer on the topics of green living and sleep. Her work has been covered in numerous online publications. Amber has been a regular author on the PlushBeds blog for the past 7 years.

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