Sleep plays a fundamental role in health and well-being. A new study from Yale School of Public Health reveals a new factor in getting a good night’s rest: food. The study reveals that households with higher levels of food insecurity are more likely to sleep less and sleep worse. Poor sleep is a widespread problem. Understanding its causes can lead to better interventions for people suffering from poor sleep.
The study drew data from a survey of 11,356 households in Mexico. The survey included variables like age, gender, household size, body mass index, and whether the household was in a rural or urban area. Throughout the survey, participants self-reported their sleep duration and quality.
A pattern emerged from the results: for Mexican adults, the correlation between food insecurity and sleep patterns is strong. As food insecurity increased, the odds of reporting poor sleep quality also increased. The households reporting severe food insecurity were nearly twice as likely to report poor sleep quality. Women were more likely to report poor sleep quality than men.
The reasons for this relationship are not apparent. Food insecurity’s impact on sleep could be due to physical factors or emotional stressors. The researcher investigated whether depression mediated the relationship, but found no evidence for it.
The study suggests that there is a pressing need to address food insecurity. Sleep impacts memory and academic performance. Poor sleep is linked to a number of health issues including diabetes and depression. Treating society-wide food insecurity issues could be one way to help people sleep more and improve their well-being.
This research is published in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health.
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