Experts have long theorized about a connection between sleep and diet, but little formal research has been conducted on the subject. That is until now. A new study, published in the journal Appetite, has found a striking and strong link between nutritional intake and sleep quality.
Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania analyzed data from the 2007-2009 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey as well as additional data they acquired on the sleep habits of these same participants. They categorized the participants’ sleeping habits as “very short” (fewer than five hours a night), “short” (five to six hours a night), “standard” (seven to eight hours a night) or “long” (nine or more hours a night).
The researchers found a significant negative correlation between caloric intake, or the number of calories consumed per day, and hours of sleep. Thus, “short” sleepers consumed the highest amount of calories, followed by “normal” sleepers and then “very short” sleepers. “Long” sleepers consumed the fewest calories of any group.
Possibly the most interesting finding was that variety in diet was associated with good sleeping habits. “Normal” sleepers were more likely to consume a wide array of nutrients than any other group.
It’s important to note that this was only an observational study and does not prove causation. Researchers found very strong connections, but can’t say with certainty that changing one’s diet will improve or hurt one’s quality of sleep.
Home Care Assistance wants to know: do you think what you eat during the day affects how you sleep at night?