A new study from the University of Pennsylvania links what we eat with certain sleep patterns and finds people who eat a varied diet enjoy the best night's rest.

 

Very few scientific studies spell out the relationship between what we eat and how we sleep, yet it's an important area to explore, says Dr. Michael Grandner, lead author of the study.

"Because we know that less sleep seems to be related to obesity and cardiovascular disease, so the question is what's the role of diet?" he said.

For this study, Grandner and his research team at Penn's medical school sifted through national health and nutrition data.  They focused on the nutritional patterns of very short sleepers, who don't get even five hours a night ... and short sleepers who get five to six hours.

"And the reason for the breakdown is because when you look at the population of very short sleepers, they seem to be fundamentally different than short sleepers in terms of their risk profiles," said Grandner. "They seem to be at higher risk than the five- to six-hour sleepers, so we wanted to see if the dietary patterns were fundamentally different."

Grandner's team found that very short sleepers have boring diets.  They also drink little water and don't eat carbohydrate-rich foods.

Overall, they found people who eat a large variety of foods had the healthiest sleep patterns.