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Volume 12 No. 01
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Accepted Papers

Scientific Investigations

Fiber and Saturated Fat Are Associated with Sleep Arousals and Slow Wave Sleep

Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD1; Amy Roberts, PhD2; Ari Shechter, PhD1; Arindam Roy Choudhury, PhD3
1New York Obesity Research Center and Institute of Human Nutrition, College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY; 2New York Obesity Research Center, St. Luke's/Roosevelt Hospital, New York, NY; 3Department of Biostatistics, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY

Study Objectives:

Sleep restriction alters food intake, but less is known about how dietary patterns affect sleep. Current goals were to determine whether: (1) sleep is different after consumption of a controlled diet vs. an ad libitum diet, and (2) dietary intake during ad libitum feeding is related to nocturnal sleep.


Twenty-six normal weight adults (30–45 y), habitually sleeping 7-9 h/night, participated in a randomized-crossover inpatient study with 2 phases of 5 nights: short (4 h in bed) or habitual (9 h in bed) sleep. Only data from the habitual sleep phase were used for the present analyses. During the first 4 days, participants consumed a controlled diet; on day 5, food intake was self-selected. Linear regression was used to determine relations between daytime food intake and nighttime sleep on day 5.


Sleep duration did not differ after 3 days of controlled feeding vs. a day of ad libitum intake. However, sleep after ad libitum eating had less slow wave sleep (SWS, P = 0.0430) and longer onset latency (P = 0.0085). Greater fiber intake predicted less stage 1 (P = 0.0198) and more SWS (P = 0.0286). Percent of energy from saturated fat predicted less SWS (P = 0.0422). Higher percent of energy from sugar and other carbohydrates not considered sugar or fiber was associated with arousals (P = 0.0320 and 0.0481, respectively).


Low fiber and high saturated fat and sugar intake is associated with lighter, less restorative sleep with more arousals. Diet could be useful in the management of sleep disorders but this needs to be tested.

Clinical Trial Registration:, #NCT00935402.


St-Onge MP, Roberts A, Shechter A, Choudhury AR. Fiber and saturated fat are associated with sleep arousals and slow wave sleep. J Clin Sleep Med 2016;12(1):19–24.

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