What you eat and how much you weigh can influence how you sleep, according to a new study which found that individual’s body composition and calorie intake can influence time spent in specific stages of their slumber.
For the study, 36 healthy adults experienced two consecutive nights of 10 hours in bed per night at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in the US.
Polysomnography – which records physiological changes that occur during sleep – was recorded on the second night.
Body composition and resting energy expenditure were assessed on the morning following the first night of sleep.
Food and drink intake was measured each day.
The researchers from Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage and resting energy expenditure were not significant predictors of sleep stage duration, but that overweight adults exhibited a higher percentage of time spent in the rapid-eye movement (REM) stage of sleep – when dreams typically occur and characterised by faster heart rate and breathing and less restorative sleep than in non-REM stages – than normal-weight adults.
The group also found that increased protein intake predicted less stage 2 sleep – the period when a person’s heart rate and breathing are relatively normal and his/her body temperature lowers slightly – and predicted more REM sleep.
“In a culture of increasing pressure to sacrifice sleep to maintain productivity, this research adds to the body of knowledge on how lifestyle behaviours may influence the quality of our sleep” said Andrea M Spaeth, postdoctoral fellow at University of Pennsylvania.