Women categorized as having severe insomnia, who take longer to fall asleep, and whose overall quality of sleep is poor tend to overeat and consume a lower-quality diet, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
The findings provide insight into the link between poor sleep quality and the risk of heart disease and obesity in women while also pointing to potential interventions that could improve women’s heart health.
Researchers analyzed the sleep and eating habits of 495 women between the ages of 20 and 76. The majority of women were ethnically diverse. The study specifically looked at sleep quality, the time it took to fall asleep, and insomnia, rather than sleep duration. Unlike other studies that focus on specific foods or nutrients, researchers measured the types and amounts of food the women ate throughout a year.
The study found that women with worse overall sleep quality consumed more of the added sugars associated with obesity and diabetes. Women who took longer to fall asleep had a higher caloric intake and ate more food by weight. And women classified as having severe insomnia consumed more food by weight and fewer unsaturated fats than women with milder insomnia. NHLBI funded this study.