High-Fat Diet Linked to Poor Sleep

Study Shows Fat-Laden Dinner Ups Risk of Disruptive Sleep

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on June 10, 2008
From the WebMD Archives

June 10, 2008 (Baltimore) -- Add poor sleep to the long list of health complaints associated with eating a high-fat diet.

Brazilian researchers have found that the more fat you consume each day, the less likely you are to get a good night's sleep.

Having a fat-laden cheeseburger and fries for dinner may be particularly disruptive to your sleep pattern, the small study suggests.

Cibele Crispim, MS, of the Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, led the study. The findings were presented at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

High-Fat Diet Disrupts Sleep

Studies in the sleep lab showed that overall, the more fat they ate each day:

  • The more times they woke up, tossing and turning, throughout the night.
  • The greater the chance of abnormal breathing while sleeping.
  • The less time spent in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep each night. REM sleep is the sleep state during which dreaming occurs.

Research has shown that the more REM sleep you get, the more energetic you will feel the next day, says American Academy of Sleep Medicine spokesman Ron Kramer, MD.

"Basically, REM sleep helps to restore your body after a day of life on planet Earth," he says. Kramer is medical director of the Colorado Sleep Disorders Center in Denver.

When meals were analyzed separately, a high-fat dinner alone -- independent of whatever else one ate throughout the day -- raised the risk of disruptive sleep.

While preliminary, the study "is important as it extends our knowledge of the complex relationship between eating and sleeping," Kramer tells WebMD. "These data show that what we eat during the day can have lasting effects, negatively impacting our sleep."

Show Sources


SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, Baltimore, June 7-12, 2008.

Cibele Crispim, MS, Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Ron Kramer, MD, spokesman, American Academy of Sleep Medicine; medical director, Colorado Sleep Disorders Center, Denver.

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