Study: Diet May Impact Sleep Pattern, But Not Duration


A higher carbohydrate diet was linked to earlier sleep and wake times, despite low carbohydrate consumption among study participants.

Food may influence the time that someone goes to sleep, according to research that will be presented at the American Physiology Summit in Long Beach, California. Higher amounts of vitamins B12 and C and carbohydrates were associated with an earlier sleep time and earlier wake time.

sleeping in bed closed eyes | Image Credit: © DavidPrado -

“We know that sleep helps the body heal from daily physical and mental stress and influences future physical and mental performance,” said first study author Lauren Rentz, a doctoral student at West Virginia University, in the press release. “The relationship between sleep and nutrient intake hasn’t been researched as thoroughly in high-performing athletes, who consistently experience large amounts of stress.”

Athletic success is not solely the readiness to perform; it can be measured by resiliency on and off the field, Rentz said in the press release. Sleep can be an important factor that influences resiliency.

In a recent study, investigators analyzed the sleep and nutritional patterns of 23 elite female collegiate soccer players to understand the influence of nutrition on sleep patterns. The athletes were given a smart ring to track their sleep patterns for approximately 1 month during theircompetitive season. They recorded dietary intake during the last 3 days of the study.

“The use of wearable technology has become very popular among athletes… wearables are great for capturing the body’s response to physiological stressors without adding more stress,” Rentzsaid in the press release.

Investigators found that nutrition is linked to sleep timing; in particular, athletes who consumed larger amounts of vitamins B12 and C and carbohydrates went to bed earlier and woke up earlier. Vitamins B12 and C and carbohydrates are all nutrients which may be responsible for the synthesis of serotonin and melatonin, which are hormones that regulate sleep. In addition, the data showed that athletes slept 7 to 8 hours a night on average; however, investigators did not observe a link between dietary patterns and sleep duration.

Approximately 50% of athletes were found to be deficient in vitamins A and K. About half werealso deficient in protein, and nearly all the athletes did not consume the recommended amounts of vitamin D and carbohydrates. However, most athletes generally met the recommended nutrient intake. Investigators plan on studying similar health patterns in a larger cohort to understand how diet and sleep patterns influence athletic success.

“Our study shows how wearable data can be used by practitioners or athletes themselves to become more in-tune with their health,” Rentz said in the press release.


American Physiology Society. Study of College Athletes Shows that Nutrition and Sleep May Go Hand in Hand. News Release. April 21, 2023. Accessed on April 21, 2023.

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