Michael Grandner is an instructor in psychiatry and member of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. He said,"Although many of us inherently recognize that there is a relationship between what we eat and how we sleep, there have been very few scientific studies that have explored this connection, especially in a real-world situation". Grandner and his colleagues analyzed data from the 2007-2008 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that short sleepers (five to six hours a night) consumed the most calories, followed by normal sleepers (seven to eight hours), very short sleepers (fewer than five hours), and long sleepers (nine or more hours).
Very short sleep was associated with lower intake of a chemical called lycopene (which is found in red- and orange-colored foods, such a tomatoes), total carbohydrates and tap water. Short sleep was associated with lower intake of vitamin C, tap water, selenium (a mineral found in nuts, meat and shellfish) and higher intake of nutrients found in green, leafy vegetables (called lutein and zeaxanthin).
Long sleep was associated with lower intake of a substance found in chocolate and tea (called theobromine), a saturated fat called dodecanoic acid, choline (which is found in eggs and fatty meats), total carbohydrates, and a higher intake of alcohol.
"If we can pinpoint the ideal mix of nutrients and calories to promote healthy sleep, the health care community has the potential to make a major dent in obesity and other [health] risk factors," Grandner said.