You are here
Home > Blog > Family Practice Medicine > Insomnia Severity And Nutrition

Insomnia Severity And Nutrition

Insomnia Severity And Nutrition

Quality sleep is essential for physical and mental well-being, with disruptions causing cognitive issues, fatigue, and even depression. When our sleep is compromised, it can have far-reaching consequences, affecting various aspects of our lives. 

Sleep disruptions are closely tied to cognitive issues, making it harder to think clearly and make sound decisions. Insomnia, characterized by sleep difficulties, can further impair daily life. 

Our dietary choices exert a profound influence on the quality of our sleep. The foods we consume can either promote restful slumber or disrupt our sleep patterns. Some dietary habits have been identified as potential culprits in contributing to poor sleep quality. 

For instance, diets low in vegetables and fish, which are rich in essential nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids, may deprive the body of the elements necessary for a good night’s sleep.

Studies indicate that dietary patterns like the Mediterranean diet can reduce insomnia symptoms, while sugary foods and high-carb diets may worsen sleep quality. Research focuses on dietary patterns’ influence on sleep complications, especially insomnia..

Study Overview

The study aimed to investigate the connections between different dietary patterns, determined through principal component analysis (PCA), and the occurrence of insomnia in young women. The goal was to assess how what they eat might be linked to their sleep quality and patterns, building on the growing body of evidence that suggests a significant relationship between diet and sleep.


In the conducted study, the participants comprised 159 healthy young women aged 18 to 25 years. These participants were selected from five universities within Birjand province, Iran, during the period from December 2019 to February 2020. 

The researchers excluded individuals with severe or ongoing systemic health conditions, as well as those with a documented history of psychological issues such as depression and aggressiveness. The study received approval from our university’s Ethics Committee, and all volunteers provided written informed consent to participate.

A neuropsychological assessment was carried out using standard instruments, which included a cognitive ability questionnaire (CAQ), depression and anxiety stress scales (DASS-21), insomnia severity index (ISI), Epworth sleepiness scale (ESS), and a quality of life questionnaire (QLQ). 

Dietary patterns were determined using principal component analysis (PCA) based on responses collected from a validated 65-item food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) in this research.

Statistical Analysis 

In the statistical analysis, SPSS software version 16 was employed. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to identify prominent dietary patterns from a set of 24 predefined food groups. To simplify and finalize the component matrix, Varimax rotation was applied. 

Two factors with Eigenvalues exceeding 1 were derived based on data interpretation and scree plot analysis, resulting in the identification of two distinct dietary patterns. The factor scores for each pattern were calculated by summing the intake of foods weighted by their factor loadings. Participants were then categorized based on their insomnia status.

Normality of variables was assessed using the Kolmogorov–Smirnov test, and parametric tests were used for normally distributed variables. Mean values and standard deviations represented continuous data, while categorical data were presented as numbers and percentages.

Link Between Diet and Sleep 

The link between dietary choices and sleep is a growing field of research. In our present study, we delved into the connection between two dietary patterns, identified through principal component analysis (PCA), and the presence of insomnia. 

The findings from this cross-sectional research indicated that following a Western-style diet characterized by a high intake of snacks, fast food, chicken, and vegetable oil was associated with an increased likelihood of experiencing insomnia. This association held true even after accounting for various other factors that might influence the results.

Previous studies have highlighted noteworthy associations between dietary patterns and insomnia in different populations. For instance, adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet has been linked to longer, more restful sleep and a reduced likelihood of sleep disturbances. Conversely, individuals with low consumption of fruits and vegetables but high intake of fast food and soft drinks were found to be at higher risk of insomnia. The content of diets, rich in fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, grains, and fish, and low in saturated fat and red meat, is believed to enhance sleep quality.

Moreover, specific dietary components have been pinpointed for their potential impact on sleep. A high intake of meat-derived protein, particularly from red meat, has been associated with poor sleep quality. This effect may be attributed to amino acids like tyrosine and tryptophan, which can influence sleep-inducing substances in the brain.

Insomnia and obesity share a complex relationship, with insufficient sleep potentially leading to weight gain due to its effects on endocrine, behavioral, and neurological systems. Individuals with short sleep durations tend to consume energy-dense foods with higher fat and refined carbohydrate content compared to those who sleep sufficiently. Additionally, high dietary glycemic index (GI) and added sugars have been linked to an increased risk of insomnia, with potential mechanisms involving blood sugar fluctuations and inflammatory responses.

Sugary beverages (SSBs) and caffeine consumption can also negatively impact sleep. SSBs, due to their sugar and caffeine content, may lead to shorter sleep durations and reduced sleep quality. Caffeine, a well-known sleep disruptor, can extend the time it takes to fall asleep and diminish overall sleep quality.

Calorie intake has been studied in relation to sleep characteristics, with reduced energy intake associated with improved nocturnal sleep. The mechanisms behind this link remain unclear, but reduced dietary energy intake has been found to expedite sleep initiation, particularly in individuals with obesity. Chronic fat consumption, on the other hand, has been shown to reduce orexin concentrations in the hypothalamus, affecting alertness and energy balance regulation.

Insomnia is closely associated with depression, anxiety, and stress, mirroring previous research findings. Prolonged nighttime awakenings can lead to rumination and increased symptoms of depression and anxiety.


In the study, two significant dietary patterns were identified, termed as “Traditional” and “Western.” The Western pattern was characterized by a high consumption of snacks, nuts, dairy products, tea, fast foods, chicken, and vegetable oils. 

It was observed that individuals experiencing moderate to severe insomnia exhibited lower scores in total cognitive ability tasks and fewer nocturnal sleep hours. They also reported lower physical and mental health scores but had higher scores for depression, anxiety, stress, and daytime sleepiness when compared to those without insomnia (p<0.05).

After adjusting for potential confounders, it was found that a strong adherence to the Western dietary pattern was associated with significantly higher odds of experiencing insomnia, with an odds ratio of 5.9 (95% confidence intervals: 1.9–18.7; p=0.003). This suggests a notable link between dietary choices, particularly the Western dietary pattern, and the prevalence of insomnia in the study population.

Final Thoughts 

The study identified a substantial positive correlation between young women adhering to a Western dietary (WD) pattern and experiencing insomnia. This WD pattern, characterized by elevated consumption of snacks, tea, fast foods, and chicken, was associated with increased rates of insomnia, depression, anxiety, and stress while diminishing the overall quality of life. However, it is imperative to conduct future longitudinal studies to corroborate the current findings.

Oncology Related Tools


Latest Research


About Author

Similar Articles

Leave a Reply