Fatty Diet Fights Sleep
On any given afternoon, statistics tell us that about 1 in 5 Americans is dangerously drowsy. Those people are driving, working heavy machinery and interacting with the rest of us in any number of ways.
And it’s not just an American problem. With an eye toward the relationship between what we eat and how we sleep, Australian researchers took a look at the complex anatomy of appetite, diet and rest. Their findings, published in the journal Nutrients, show how a high-fat diet plays a role in daytime sleepiness.
Rest and diet seem to form a vicious cycle. Poor sleep leads to low energy. Low energy increases our desire for high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods. Those foods lead to poor sleep. And on and on.
Researchers looked at the dietary habits of 1,815 Australian men between the ages of 35 and 80. Over the course of a year participants filled out a food-frequency questionnaire and underwent nightly electrical monitoring to detect obstructive sleep apnea.
The study team discovered that those who reported the highest fat intake were 78% more likely to suffer from daytime sleepiness compared to those who ate the fewest fatty foods.
According to the American Sleep Association, obstructive sleep apnea has historically been linked to those with a high body mass index (BMI), which occurs in more than half of all overweight and obese people.
Our sleeping/waking cycles rely on our internal clock. That control center is located in the hypothalamus -- a region in the brain that plays a key role in the intertwined relationship between sleep, food consumption, and sleep rhythms. The researchers have concluded that it’s in this region that fat takes a toll on a person’s sleep cycle.