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New Study Links Diet to Abnormal Sleep Patterns


Sleep and diet are even more connected than previously believed, according to new study published in the recent issue of the journal Appetite.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine looked at differences in the diets of people who routinely report abnormal sleep patterns including getting less than eight hours of sleep per night, as well as those who sleep for longer.

Examining the types of food consumed as well as the number of calories per day, the researchers looked at data collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2007–2009. The study participants were grouped as well by their sleep patterns: "very short"—sleeping fewer than five hours per night; "short"—sleeping five to six hours per night; "standard"—sleeping seven to eight hours per night; and "long"—sleeping nine or more hours per night.

The team found a connection between caloric intake and number of hours slept: people who consumed the most calories were also more likely to be "short" sleepers, followed by "normal" sleepers, "very short" and "long" sleepers.

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What was consumed also factored in to sleep patterns. Very short sleepers were found to consume less water, carbs and antioxidants found in red and orange fruits and vegetables than the other sleep groups. And those long sleepers were found to consume less of a compound common in tea and chocolate, as well as choline, a nutrient common in eggs and meats. They were also more likely to consume more alcohol.

The normal sleepers seemed to consume a more varied and well-rounded diet than the other sleep groups. The researchers hope to look next at whether or not changes to diet will affect changes in sleep patterns.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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