Can't sleep Ditch the fry up, tuck into a salad and glug plenty of water
Study finds eggs and fatty meats cause lack of sleepA lack of sleep can be attributed to an unbalanced dietThose who ate the most calories had the least sleep

Emily Payne


17:46 GMT, 18 February 2013



17:52 GMT, 18 February 2013

Scientists have discovered a direct link between what we eat and how well we sleep at night.

Researchers from the
University of Pennsylvania found that certain
nutrients may play a role in healthy sleep patterns.

A lack of vitamin C, being dehydrated or eating too much fatty food can all wreak havoc with our sleep patterns, they found.

A lack of sleep could be caused the nutrients in your diet

A lack of sleep could be caused the nutrients in your diet

People who didn't get much vitamin C (found in oranges, broccoli, peppers and dark leafy greens), selenium (found in nuts, meat and shellfish) and lycopene (found in red and orange-coloured foods) were found to have poor sleep patterns.

A diet high in saturated fat and also choline (found in eggs and fatty meats) also disrupted sleep, as did the usual offenders such as chocolate and tea (which contain the compound theobromin) and alcohol.

Sleep patterns were categorised as 'very short' – less than five hours per night, 'short' – five to six hours per night, 'standard' – seven to eight hours per night and long – nine or more hours per night.

Participants met with specially trained staff who went over, in great detail, a full day's dietary intake.

Those who sleep well are more likely to have a balanced diet, which includes foods high in vitamin C

Those who sleep well are more likely to have a balanced diet, which includes foods high in vitamin C

This included everything from the occasional glass of water to detailed records of every part of each meal.

With this data, the research team analysed whether each group differed from the seven to eight-hour sleepers when it came to nutrient and calorie intake.

They also looked at these associations after controlling for overall diet, demographics, socio-economics, physical activity, obesity, and other factors that could have explained this relationship.

The authors found that total calorie intake varied across groups.

They found that people who consumed the most calories had the worst sleep.

Those who ate the widest variety of foods slept better – and those who only ate a selected range tended to have more restless sleep.

Differences across groups were found for many types of nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.

'Overall, people who sleep seven to eight hours each night differ in terms of their diet, compared to people who sleep less or more,' said the study's lead researcher Michael Grandner, of the Centre for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology
at the university.

'We also found that short and long sleep are associated with lower food variety.

'Although many of us inherently recognise that there is a relationship
between what we eat and how we sleep, there have been very few
scientific studies that have explored this connection, especially in a
real-world situation.

'This will be an important area to explore going forward as we know that short sleep duration is associated with weight gain and obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.'

The study was published in the journal Appetite.