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Over Consumption of Junk Food Can Impact a Person’s Sleep Cycle

According to a study on healthy volunteers, researchers from Uppsala University have shown that eating junk food hurts the quality of deep sleep. 

In a recent study, researchers from Uppsala University investigated the effects of junk food on sleep. Healthy volunteers eat an unhealthy and a healthier diet in random order. Compared to those who had followed the healthier diet, the participants’ deep sleep quality declined after the poor diet. 

The study’s findings were released in the journal Obesity. Numerous epidemiological research has revealed that our diet affects our sleep patterns. Few studies, however, have examined the direct relationship between nutrition and sleep. One technique is having the same person consume several diets in a random order. 

Effect Of Junk Food 

Bad sleep and a bad diet both raise the risk of several illnesses. We thought it would be fascinating to investigate if some of the health effects of various diets could involve changes to our sleep because what we eat is so significant to our health. Studies intended to identify the molecular impact of various diets on sleep have yet to be conducted in this setting, according to Dr Jonathan Cedernaes, an associate professor of medical cell biology at Uppsala University

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Previous epidemiological studies have demonstrated, for instance, a relationship between poorer sleep and diets high in sugar. However, as Cedernaes argues, several physiological states interact during sleep: 

For instance, what we eat can have an impact on deep sleep. However, no study had previously looked at the effects of eating an unhealthy diet and then contrasted that with the quality of sleep when the same person adopted a good diet. The fact that sleep is so dynamic in this environment is interesting. distinct stages of our sleep serve distinct purposes, such as deep sleep’s control over hormonal secretion. Furthermore, several forms of electrical activity in the brain indicate each sleep stage. 

It controls factors including how restorative sleep is and varies depending on the location of the brain. However, conditions like insomnia and ageing can also hurt the quality or depth of the stages of sleep. It has not been previously explored whether exposure to various diets might cause comparable alterations in our sleep stages. 

A sleep lab monitoring period of several days was required for each study session. As a result, the study only comprised 15 participants. 15 healthy young guys of average weight took part in the two sessions. The first screening involved checking the participants for characteristics including their sleep patterns, which had to be normal and within the suggested range.

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The individuals received both a healthier diet and an unhealthier diet in a random order. The number of calories in the two diets was the same and was tailored to the daily caloric needs of each person. The unhealthy diet included more processed foods, more sugar, and more saturated fat, among other things. Each diet’s meals had to be ingested at times that had to be specifically regulated and matched between the two diets. The participants’ sleep, activity, and food schedules were all tracked for a full week while they followed each diet. 

The subjects underwent a sleep lab examination following each diet. There, individuals were initially allowed to experience a typical night of sleep while their brain activity was monitored. In the sleep lab, the individuals were then kept awake before being given the chance to catch up on sleep. In this instance, their slumber was also documented. 

What we saw was that the subjects slept for the same number of hours regardless of whatever diet they consumed. This held true both while they were on the diets and after switching to a different, identical diet. Additionally, the participants’ time in each stage of sleep was equal between the two diets. However, we had a special interest in learning more about the characteristics of their deep sleep. We focused on slow-wave activity, which can be a good indicator of how restorative deep sleep is. It’s interesting to note that when subjects had eaten junk food as opposed to healthier meals, deep sleep showed reduced slow-wave activity. 

Once we had changed the individuals’ diets to an identical ones, this effect persisted into the next night as well. In essence, poor nutrition caused shallower deep sleep. It’s important to note that similar sleep abnormalities happen with age and in illnesses like insomnia. From the standpoint of sleep, it is conceivable that in such circumstances, a larger emphasis should be placed on diet, according to Cedernaes. 

The duration of the unhealthy diet’s impact on sleep is still unknown to the researchers. The study did not examine whether shallower deep sleep would affect, for instance, functions that are governed by deep sleep. 

Conducting functional testing to examine potential effects on, say, memory function would be intriguing. Sleep controls this to a considerable extent. Understanding the potential duration of the observed impacts would also be intriguing. We don’t know which components of the unhealthy diet made the depth of deep sleep worse. As in our situation, poor diets frequently have smaller quantities of dietary fibre and larger proportions of sugar and saturated fat. 

Investigating whether there is a specific molecular factor that contributes more would be fascinating. The duration of our food intervention was also very brief, and the amount of sugar and fat may have been larger. A more unhealthy diet may have produced more pronounced consequences on sleep, according to Cedernaes. 

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Riya Kapoor

Riya Kapoor writes about lifestyle, entertainment, news and gadgets. She has been in this industry for almost 4 years now. She is a graduate from Delhi University with English Hons and had deep connection with writing since her childhood.

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