Eating too many fatty foods results in a bad night’s sleep, a study claims.
Researchers found people had lighter, less restful and more disrupted sleep when they ate less fibre and more fat and sugar.
But healthier fare led to more deep, slow-wave sleep, which builds up physical and mental energy.
High sugar intake was also linked with tossing and turning, and waking up .
Prof Marie-Pierre St-Onge, of Columbia University, New York, said: “Our main finding was diet quality influenced sleep quality.
"It was most surprising a single day of greater fat intake and lower fibre could influence sleep parameters."
The study also found participants fell asleep faster after eating fixed meals provided by a nutritionist, which were lower in saturated fat and higher in protein, than when they chose their meals.
It took them an average of 17 minutes to nod off compared to 29 minutes when they consumed foods and beverages of their choice.
Prof St-Onge said: "The finding diet can influence sleep has tremendous health implications, given the increasing recognition of the role of sleep in the development of chronic disorders such as hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease."
The study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine followed 26 men and women of normal weight for five nights in a sleep lab.
The participants, whose average age was 35, spent nine hours in bed from 10pm to 7am, managing an average seven hours and 35 minutes shut-eye a night.
Objective sleep data were gathered nightly using a technique known as polysomnograhy in which brain waves, blood oxygen, heart rate and breathing, as well as eye and leg movements, are recorded.
The results were analyzed from night three, after three days of controlled feeding, and night five, after one day when they were allowed to pick their own food.
Dr Nathaniel Watson, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine who reviewed the research, said: "This study emphasizes the fact diet and sleep are interwoven in the fabric of a healthy lifestyle.
"For optimal health it is important to make lifestyle choices that promote healthy sleep, such as eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly."
The authors added that diet based recommendations might be used in those with poor sleep quality. But future studies are required to evaluate this relationship.
In the last few years, the link between what we eat and our sleep patterns has emerged as an important piece in the obesity puzzle.
Not only can the right food aid sleep, it works the other way too - better sleep promotes weight loss.
Lack of sleep, however, has been found to stimulate production of hunger hormone ghrelin, which makes us overeat.
Evidence shows that the more sleep you get, the fewer calories you eat the next day.
A German study last year showed that after just one night of disruption, volunteers were less energetic and used fewer calories, but were hungrier and ate more - a recipe for weight gain.
This means eating the right foods for a better night's sleep is a win-win solution. It will help you sleep, which in turn should keep you trim.
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