What is the Impact of Fiber, Sugar, Saturated Fat on Sleep Quality?

What is the Impact of Fiber, Sugar, Saturated Fat on Sleep Quality?


Title: Fiber and Saturated Fat Are Associated with Sleep Arousals and Slow Wave Sleep

Author: St-Onge et al

Journal” Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine

Objective: to determine whether: (1) sleep is different after consumption of a controlled diet vs. an ad libitum diet, and (2) dietary intake during ad libitum feeding is related to nocturnal sleep


Previously, I have reported on ways to improve your sleep quality and I would encourage you to check that video out:

14 Ways To Wake Up Feeling More Rested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kZKTdWzc-w

Getting healthy sleep is very important. Poor sleep hygiene as it is often termed, is associated with a variety of health risks, including:

  • Heart disease and heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Memory Loss
  • Stress
  • Depression and mood disorders

It’s not to say that poor quality sleep actually causes these conditions, but if you don’t sleep well, then your body doesn’t benefit from the daily restorative functions that sleep provides.

The relationship between diet and sleep is of increasing interest. There is some data on what lack of sleep can do to our nutritional decision making, for example total sleep time was found to be negatively associated with fat intake.

What is far less clear is what effect does food intake have on our sleep? There are some very small studies looking at this question without a lot of large conclusions to draw or share with you. There is very limited information on the role of diet on sleep hygiene or quality.

The authors of this study wanted to look at a controlled diet vs aself-selected diet and how this affected nocturnal sleep patterns.


This study included 26 normal weight adults (30–45 y), habitually sleeping 7-9 h/night, who participated in a randomized-crossover inpatient study with 2 phases of 5 nights.

Phases were either short (4 h in bed) or habitual (9 h in bed) sleep, although they only used data from the habitual sleep phase for the present analyses.

During the first 4 days, participants consumed a controlled diet; on day 5, food intake was self-selected.

Linear regression was used to determine relations between daytime food intake and nighttime sleep on day 5.


Let me take a second to explain slow wave sleep and onset latency.

  • Slow wave sleep: is the type of sleep where new memories are saved or consolidated and is thought to let the brain recover from its daily activities
  • Sleep onset latency: This term describes how long it takes to go from full wakefulness to sleep.
  • Sleep duration did not differ after 3 days of controlled feeding vs. a day of ad libitum intake.

However, sleep after ad libitum eating had less slow wave sleep (SWS, P = 0.0430) and longer onset latency (P = 0.0085).

Greater fiber intake predicted less stage 1 (P = 0.0198) and more slow wave sleep(P = 0.0286).

Percent of energy from saturated fat predicted less slow wave sleep (P = 0.0422).

Higher percent of energy from sugar and other carbohydrates not considered sugar or fiber was associated with arousals (P = 0.0320 and 0.0481, respectively).


Diets either high in saturated fat or refined sugars were associated with less slow wave sleep and longer onset latency. This means those diets are associated with lighter, less restorative sleep with more arousals.

Diets low in fiber also had similar findings.

This information is very preliminary, and as mentioned, there’s not much research, but it is encouraging. Diet may have a role in treating sleep disorders.

Original Article

St-Onge, M., Roberts, A., & Shechter, A. (2016). Fiber and Saturated Fat Are Associated with Sleep Arousals and Slow Wave Sleep. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 12(01), 19-24. doi:10.5664/jcsm.5384

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