Women who sleep poorly tend to eat too much and have a lower-quality diet, a study shows. Researchers tracked 500 womens' sleep, finding those who ta
Women who sleep poorly tend to eat too much and have a lower-quality diet, a study shows.
Researchers tracked 500 womens’ sleep, finding those who take a long time to fall asleep eat more calorific food. Those who wake up a lot throughout the night tend to eat fattier foods.
The researchers believe a lack of shut-eye either triggers hunger, or suppresses signals that tell the brain the stomach is full.
The findings provide fresh insight into why bad sleepers have repeatedly shown to be more at risk of heart disease.
If women have bad sleep quality and eat more as a result, they are more likely to be obese – a risk factor for a myriad or heart problems and other diseases.
omen who struggle to fall asleep or wake up often gorge on calorific foods. The researchers believe poor sleep either triggers hunger signals or suppresses signals of fullness
The researchers – from Columbia University in New York – sought to get a more comprehensive picture in women by examining the link between diet and sleep quality.
They looked at women specifically because they face more sleep difficulties, according to study senior author Dr Brooke Aggarwal, assistant professor of medical sciences at Columbia University.
She said: ‘Women are particularly prone to sleep disturbances across the life span, because they often shoulder the responsibilities of caring for children and family and, later, because of menopausal hormones.’
The sleep and eating habits of an ethnically-diverse group of 495 women, aged between 20 between 76, were collected.
Women reported their sleep quality – which is how ‘sound’ a sleep they have – the time it took to fall asleep, and any symptoms of insomnia.
Their sleep was scored using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and the Insomnia Severity Index.
Participants reported how much or little they ate of around 70 food items throughout the year.
Researchers used a database to calculate total calorie intake and fiber, fish, dairy, whole grain and sugar consumption.
Similar to previous studies of sleep and diet, the study found that those with worse overall sleep quality consumed more sugary foods.
This may explain the link between poor sleep and obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Women who took more than one hour to fall asleep had higher calorie intake and ate more food by weight than those who took less than 15 minutes to fall asleep.
And women with more severe insomnia symptoms consumed more food by weight and fewer unsaturated fats than women with milder insomnia.
Dr Aggarwal said: ‘Our interpretation is that women with poor-quality sleep could be overeating during subsequent meals and making more unhealthy food choices.’
Study lead author Dr Faris Zuraikat, a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia, said: ‘Poor sleep quality may lead to excessive food and calorie intake by stimulating hunger signals or suppressing signals of fullness.
‘Fullness is largely affected by the weight or volume of food consumed, and it could be that women with insomnia consume a greater amount of food in an effort to feel full.
‘However, it’s also possible that poor diet has a negative impact on women’s sleep quality.
‘Eating more could also cause gastrointestinal discomfort, for instance, making it harder to fall asleep or remain asleep.’
Dr Aggarwal added: ‘Given that poor diet and overeating may lead to obesity-a well-established risk factor for heart disease.
‘Future studies should test whether therapies that improve sleep quality can promote cardiometabolic health in women.’
The findings were published in Journal of the American Heart Association
They support previous research showing people who sleep less are more likely to to be obese and have type 2 diabetes.
The amount of time a person sleeps has been linked to their risk of cardiovascular disease time and time again.
Lack of sleep shortens your life expectancy, according to the NHS, and has previously been linked to a greater risk of cancer.
Poor sleep may increase the risk of cancer by permanently damaging DNA’s ability to repair itself.
The recommended hours of sleep for people vary across age groups.
An adult aged between 18 and 60 should get at least seven hours of sleep per night, according to the website of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Figures from the Royal Society for Public Health estimate the average person sleeps for 6.8 hours a night, but the the NHS recommends people get eight hours.
More than 40million people suffer from long-term sleep disorders in the US, data from the CDC shows. While it is estimated there are 1.5million patients in the UK.