Junk & unhealthy food affect quality of deep sleep: Study

Researchers at Uppsala University, Sweden, conducted the study on a limited group of individuals to observe and analyse impact of junk food the person’s sleeping pattern

Junk Food affects sleep quality

New Delhi: A study has revealed that unhealthier diet or junk food have had its impact on the person’s quality of deep sleep. Deep sleep, the third stage of sleep, repairs and restores necessary functions such as memory, muscle growth, and strengthens immunity power.

Researchers at Uppsala University, Sweden, conducted the study on a limited group of individuals to analyse impact of junk food the person’s sleeping pattern. Healthy participants were fed an unhealthier as well as a healthier diet in a randomised order for the study purpose.

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The study, recently published in the journal Obesity, shows that after eating the junk food, the quality of the participants’ deep sleep deteriorated, compared with those who followed the healthier diet.

Citing the research outcome, Jonathar Cedernaes, associate professor at Uppsala University said both poor diet and poor sleep increase the risk of several public health conditions. “A total of 15 healthy normal-weight young men participated in two sessions of the study,” she added.

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Participants were first screened for aspects such as their sleep habits, which had to be normal and within the recommended range of seven to nine hours per night. They were randomly given both a healthier diet and an unhealthier diet. The two diets contained the same number of calories, adjusted to each individual’s daily requirements.

The unhealthier diet items, however, contained higher amount of sugar and saturated fat and more processed food items, among other things. Each diet was consumed for a week, while the participants’ sleep, activity and meal schedules were monitored at an individual level.

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“What we saw was that the participants slept for the same amount of time when they consumed the two diets. This was the case both while they were following the diets, as well as after they had switched to another, identical diet,” said Cedernaes.

The researchers looked at slow-wave activity, a measure that can reflects how restorative deep is. “Intriguingly, we saw that deep sleep exhibited less slow-wave activity when the participants had eaten junk food, compared with consumption of healthier food,” Cedernaes said.

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During the study, it was also found that the effect lasted into the second night, once participants switched to an identical diet. Essentially, the unhealthy diet resulted in shallower deep sleep, the scientist said.

Similar changes in sleep occurred with aging and in conditions such as insomnia, the researchers said, adding that it can be hypothesised, from a sleep perspective, that greater importance should potentially be attached to diet in such conditions, they added.

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