Do you nibble on junk and sweet treats just before bedtime? Research done by Uppsala University showed how foods before bedtime could influence the pattern of human deep sleep. The results of this study have been published in the journal Obesity, and it explains how those who took healthy foods had more quality sleep than those who took junk food.
Random participants were asked to take junk food and other healthy food to embark on this study. These participants were asked to switch places each day. In other words, those who ate healthy food before sleeping on the first day were told to take junk food on the second.
From the survey, the researchers realized that those who took healthy food on the first day had a quality sleep, and the quality deteriorated on the second day when they took junk food. For those who took junk food on the first day and then healthy food on the second, their sleep quality increased.
Before this new study, several other studies had already established that what we eat before we sleep directly impacts our healthy sleeping habits. However, this new study showed how taking junk food will make you have less quality food. Those with healthy foods before bedtime will improve their sleep quality drastically.
Jonathan Cedernaes, Physician and Associate Professor in Medical Cell Biology at Uppsala University, commented on the new study: "Both poor diet and poor sleep increase the risk of several public health conditions. As what we eat is so important for our health, we thought it would be interesting to investigate whether some of the health effects of different diets could involve changes to our sleep. In this context, so-called intervention studies have so far been lacking; studies designed to allow the mechanistic effect of different diets on sleep to be isolated."
Our Sleep is Affected By What We Eat
Cedernaes pointed out how this study conducted by their university goes a long way in explaining the correlation of food with how we sleep. Previous studies have established some correct facts. One includes a high sugar intake before sleeping, leading to poor sleep quality.
However, some other studies conducted before this new one have only been able to establish new facts. They haven't comprehensively shown how taking junk food can lead to poor sleeping habits.
"For example, deep sleep can be affected by what we eat. But no study has previously investigated what happens if we consume an unhealthy diet and then compare it to the quality of sleep after that same person follows a healthy diet. What is exciting in this context is that sleep is very dynamic," Cedernaes added.
He further highlighted the different stages of sleep and how our diet contributes to whether we have a good sleep or not.
" Our sleep consists of different stages with different functions, such as deep sleep, which regulates hormonal release, for example. Furthermore, each sleep stage is hallmarked by different types of electrical activity in the brain. This regulates aspects such as how restorative sleep is, and differs across different brain regions. But the depth or integrity of the sleep stages can also be negatively affected by factors such as insomnia and aging. Previously, it has not been investigated whether similar changes in our sleep stages can occur after exposure to different diets," Cedernaes said.