The Link Between Nutrition and Sleep

Recent studies find that at least 18 percent of adults report receiving insufficient sleep.

The Link Between Nutrition and Sleep

Recent studies find that at least 18 percent of adults report receiving insufficient sleep. Lack of sleep—especially on a regular basis—is associated with long-term health consequences, including chronic illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, and these conditions may lead to a shortened life expectancy.

A study published in 2016 in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that diet can influence sleep. This study reported that eating less fiber, more saturated fat, and more sugar—even over the course of just one day—is associated with a lighter, less restorative sleep with more disruptions.

The study found that:

  • More fiber intake predicted more time spent in deep sleep.
  • More saturated fat was associated with less deep, slow-wave slumber.
  • Greater sugar intake also was associated with an increased number of arousals from sleep.
  • High carbohydrate intake has been shown to increase the number of awakenings at night and reduce the amount of deep sleep.

A central role of nutrition is having a high enough intake of a broad range of vitamins and minerals that enable almost all types of bodily systems and processes. Growing evidence indicates that sufficient nutrient consumption is important for sleep.

One large study found a lack of key nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, D, E, and K to be associated with sleep problems.

Obesity is a key risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea, which means that an unhealthy diet that contributes to excess body weight may cause or worsen this sleep disorder.

Good eating habits can go hand in hand with getting a good night’s sleep for a healthier you.

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