High Fat Diet Linked To Daytime Sleepiness and Increased Sleep Apnea

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Yingting Cao PhD Candidate
Population Research and Outcome Studies
School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences
The University of Adelaide
Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: As sleep complains have reached a public concern, increasing number studies have investigated it. Most studies focused on the adverse effect of short sleep or poor sleep quality on health but fewer looked it the other way around. Laboratory studies have suggested the potential role of diet in regulating sleep, however, it has not been confirmed in population studies. So, we examined whether dietary factors are associated with sleep in a large cohort of middle-aged and older men in Adelaide, focusing on their sleep, as well as general health including chronic conditions. In this particular paper, we focused on macronutrient intake (we focused on nutrients and food levels in other papers) and sleep.

The main finding was that comparing with the lowest 25% fat intake (mean 58g/d), people in the highest 25% of fat intake reported more daytime sleepiness and had increased number of sleep apnea during the night.

MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: I guess clinicians (mainly sleep doctors) or patients may consider  lifestyles particularly eating habits in management sleep issues, which would help.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: As this is a cross-sectional study, causal effect is hard to make at the moment, so it is important for longitudinal studies in the population research.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: I guess the main message here is that what you eat yesterday, today, tomorrow is not that important comparing with a solid long-term diet habit in terms of health outcomes. Our body is an extremely complicated system, anything if breaks the balance will get a problem. We found high fat intake is bad for sleep doesn’t mean you should avoid fat at all, there are also good fats are encouraged to have. The main point here is to avoid extreme fat intake, and do keep a stable and balanced diet in a long term for good sleep and general wellbeing as well.


Yingting Cao, Gary Wittert, Anne Taylor, Robert Adams, Zumin Shi. Associations between Macronutrient Intake and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea as Well as Self-Reported Sleep Symptoms: Results from a Cohort of Community Dwelling Australian Men. Nutrients, 2016; 8 (4): 207 DOI: 10.3390/nu8040207

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1 Comment
  • Rich Clemente
    Posted at 15:39h, 31 May

    I’m curious if you measured any difference in sleep apnea symptoms based on the time of day that different types of food were consumed. In other words, did eating a higher fat diet later in the day seem to to increase symptoms, or was this not covered in the study?