A Lack of Fruits and Vegetables Could Cause Chronic Insomnia

Michigan researchers study this plus pot withdrawal and the origin of humans
fruits and vegetables - chronic insomnia
Can an apple a day improve young adults’ chronic insomnia? // Photo: IStock

In this month’s edition of Science Mitten, we look at three studies from across the state that look at pot withdrawal, humans’ connection to the spotted gar, and how a lack of fruits and vegetables can lead to chronic insomnia for young adults. Learn more below.

Pot withdrawal is a real thing 

While proponents of legalized marijuana often insist it isn’t as addictive as other psychoactive drugs, a study at the University of Michigan and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System found most people who use cannabis to combat pain struggle with an array of symptoms when they stop use. Those symptoms include anxiety, sleep difficulties, decreased appetite, restlessness, depressed mood, aggression, irritability, nausea, sweating, headache, stomach pain, strange dreams, increased anger, and shakiness, according to Lara Coughlin, an addiction psychologist who led the two-year study of 527 patients funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

On the origin of species, redux 

The nervous system that developed into that of modern-day humans can be traced back 100 million more years than previously thought, according to research published in the journal Science involving Michigan State University biologist Ingo Braasch. The findings, based on examinations of the spotted gar, a freshwater fish native to North America, indicate that humans descended from a fish that some 450 million years ago had similarly sophisticated connections between their eyes and brains responsible for depth perception. 

No apples a day keeps sleep away 

A lack of fruits and vegetables in the diets of young adults could cause chronic insomnia, according to a study of more than 1,400 people in their 20s led by U-M nutritional sciences professor Erica Jansen and published in Sleep Health Journal. The good news, Jansen says, is that it’s easily correctable — by eating five servings a day. A serving is generally understood as between 4 and 6 ounces, according to the Mayo Clinic. “What is unique about our study is that we were able to see that as fruit and vegetable intake changed, insomnia-related sleep characteristics also changed,” Jansen says.

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Steve Friess is news and features editor at Hour Detroit and a contributing writer for Newsweek. A Long Island native who earned a journalism degree at Northwestern University, Friess worked at newspapers in Rockford, Illinois, Las Vegas, and South Florida before launching a freelance career in Beijing, China, where he served as chief China correspondent for USA Today. After his return to the U.S. in 2003, he settled in Las Vegas, where he covered the gambling industry and the American Southwest regularly for The New York Times, Playboy, The New Republic, Time, Portfolio, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, New York magazine, and many others. During that time, he created and co-hosted two successful and groundbreaking podcasts, the celebrity-interview show The Strip and the animal affairs program The Petcast. In 2011-12, Friess landed a Knight-Wallace Fellowship for mid-career journalists at the University of Michigan. That was followed by a stint as a senior writer covering the intersection of technology and politics at Politico in Washington, D.C., In 2013, he returned permanently to Ann Arbor, where he now lives with his husband, son, and three Pomeranians. He tweets at @SteveFriess and can be reached at sfriess@hour-media.com.