Unhealthy diet linked to poor quality of deep sleep

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What was the Study?

Researchers at Uppsala University, Sweden, have discovered that consumption of an unhealthy diet can lead to a decrease in the quality of deep sleep.

The results were published in the journal Obesity.

The study consisted of 15 healthy, normal-weight young men who were given both a healthy and unhealthy diet in a randomized order.

Both diets contained the same number of calories, matched to each individual’s daily needs, but the unhealthy diet contained more sugar, saturated fat, and processed foods.

The participants’ sleep, activity, and meal schedules were monitored and their sleep was examined in a sleep laboratory after each diet.

What were the Findings?

The research showed that despite sleeping for the same amount of time on both diets, the quality of the participant’s deep sleep, as measured by slow-wave activity (which reflects how restorative deep sleep is), deteriorated after consuming the unhealthy diet.

Jonathan Cedernaes, Physician and Associate Professor in Medical Cell Biology at Uppsala University, said, “Intriguingly, we saw that deep sleep exhibited less slow-wave activity when the participants had eaten junk food, compared with consumption of healthier food.

This effect also lasted into a second night, once we had switched the participants to an identical diet.”

Why is it Important?

This research contributes to a better understanding of the impact of diet on sleep. Poor diet and poor sleep are known to increase the risk of various health conditions.

Similar changes in deep sleep quality occur with aging and in conditions such as insomnia. From a sleep perspective, this suggests that diet might play a greater role in such conditions.

While further research is needed to understand the long-term effects of an unhealthy diet on sleep and how it may alter functions regulated by deep sleep, this study presents a strong case for the importance of diet in maintaining good sleep quality.

If you care about brain health, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and Omega-3s could improve brain structure, cognition at midlife.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about antioxidants that could help reduce dementia risk, and eating more fish may protect the brain from vascular disease.

The study was published in Obesity.

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