By Edwina Green, Corporate Nutritionist

Sleep Awareness Week is taking place from the 6th to the 12th March!

“Did you sleep well last night?”

“Not really,…”
“Too much sugar yesterday…”
This conversation gets played out about once a month in our household.
It is part of the jeopardy of living with a nutritionist, but research published in the Journal of Clinical SleepMedicine in January this year, has provided some substance to the final statement [1].

Without fail, either consciously or unconsciously, we all value sleep. We know when we have had a good night sleep and wake up ready for the day ahead. Conversely, a poor night’s sleep can have ramifications far into the next day. President Bill Clinton claimed that “Every important mistake I’ve made in my life, was because I was too tired.” If poor sleep continues over a period of time, it can be very debilitating; ask any new parents.

This week is sleep awareness week (6-12 March 2016) and an opportune time to look into the association between diet quality and sleep quality. The idea that diet can have an impact on sleep is not a new one. For some people, a coffee after midday is a no-no, conversely, others cannot start the day without one. Equally, alcohol has a reputation for inducing sleep; but as your body metabolizes the alcohol, this can cause more sleep disruption and decrease sleep quality. This study looked into the composition of diets and how that impacted quality of sleep, it found that diets with:

  • greater fibre intake were associated with more slow wave sleep,
  • higher percent of energy from saturated fat were associated with less slow wave sleep,
  • higher percent of energy from sugar was associated with more disrupted sleep,

What is slow wave sleep?

Slow wave sleep is what we consider deep sleep. Technically it is the third stage of sleep and sleep deprivation studies have suggested that this sleep allows the brain to recover from the day’s activities and is important for the consolidation of memories and learning. So this small study suggests that increasing fibre, reducing saturated fat and sugar in your diet, may not only be beneficial to your waistline, it could have a positive impact on the quality of your sleep.

At Superwellness, quality of participant’s sleep is one of the measures we monitor during our 3 Month Nutrition Challenge. We consistently see participant’s sleep improve during the challenge and our seminars provide plenty of ideas about sleep management. If you think your organisation could benefit from one of our employee well-being seminars or would like to talk about our 3 Month Nutrition Challenge, please contact us for more information.

Edwina Green, Associate and Registered Nutritional Therapist

Edwina is a firm believer in natural health and the transformative benefits that good nutrition can bring. Before making the career move to naturopathic nutrition, she ran her own company working in the City of London. She is fully aware of the challenges of trying to follow a healthy diet and lifestyle, while juggling full time work and ensuring quality time with family and friends.  She is passionate about helping people take practical steps to manage their own health and teaching them to dissect the varied and often conflicting information that we receive via the media.

[1] St-Onge MP, Roberts A, Shechter A & Choudhury AR. (2016). Fiber and Saturated Fat Are Associated with Sleep Arousals and Slow Wave Sleep. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 12 (2), 19–24.