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Poor nutrition can lead to poorer sleep, says new research


Joining the chorus of researchers asserting that improper nutrition has sleep consequences, new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania shows that healthier diets improve sleep quality.

Researchers used data from the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, sponsored by the CDC, a survey of more than 12,000 people and includes questions related to diet, fitness and health.  The Penn researchers looked specifically at the questions on sleep and full-day dietary intake.

Researchers found that short sleepers (5-6 hours of sleep per 24 hour period) consumed the most calories, while long sleepers (9 hours or more) consumed the fewest. Normal sleepers (7-8 hours) fell in the middle, but did have the most variety of foods in their diets.

The dietary differences were most stark when examining the nutrients each group consumed. Short sleep was found to be associated with eating less vitamin C, tap water, and the nutrient lycopene, while they ate many more green and leafy vegetables. Long sleep was associated with eating less theobromine (found in chocolate), less saturated fat, but more alcohol. Normal sleepers consumed the most varied diets.

"Overall, people who sleep seven to eight hours each night differ in terms of their diet, compared to people who sleep less or more," researcher Dr. Michael Grandner said. "We also found that short and long sleep are associated with lower food variety. What we still don't know is if people altered their diets, would they be able to change their overall sleep pattern?"


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