Get Deeper Sleep Through Nutrition

by Sandy Todd Webster on Mar 22, 2016

Research

With lack of sleep already such a problem among North Americans, taking some simple dietary steps to promote better slumber may be something to consider before bedtime.

A small study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (2016; 12 [1]) found that consuming more saturated fat, more sugar and less fiber is associated with lighter, less restorative and more disrupted sleep. Results showed that greater fiber intake predicted more time spent in the stage of deep, slow-wave sleep. In contrast, a higher percentage of energy from saturated fat predicted less slow-wave sleep. Greater sugar intake was also associated with more arousals from sleep.

“Our main finding was that diet quality influenced sleep quality,” said principal investigator Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD, assistant professor in the department of medicine and the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. “It was most surprising that a single day of greater fat intake and lower fiber could influence sleep parameters.”

The study also found that participants fell asleep faster after eating nutritionist-prepared meals that were lower in saturated fat and higher in protein than self-selected meals. 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 controlled meals. The randomized, crossover study involved 26 adults—13 men and 13 women—of normal weight, with an average age of 35 years. During 5 nights in a sleep lab, participants spent 9 hours in bed from 10:00 pm to 7:00 am, sleeping for an average of 7 hours and 35 minutes per night. Objective sleep data was gathered nightly by polysomnography. Sleep data was analyzed from night 3, after 3 days of controlled feeding, and from night 5, after 1 day of subjects choosing their own food.

According to the authors, the study suggests that diet-based recommendations could be used to improve sleep in those with poor sleep quality. However, future studies are needed to evaluate this relationship.

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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.