Insomnia, a condition causing an inability to sleep, has been associated with multiple health effects. An examination of individuals with insomnia was conducted to determine future impact on energy and dietary intake, and diet quality.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder caused by psychological as well as medical conditions and affects approximately 10-30% of the American population. Previous hypotheses have suggested that the condition leads to an increased risk of multiple health outcomes such as metabolic syndrome, hypertension, and diabetes. Insomnia has also previously been reported to be associated with increased risk of mortality. A recent study published by the American Society for Nutrition focused on dietary effects of insomnia patients. Individuals with the sleep disorder were assessed for a two year period to determine if an increase in energy intake and a lower diet quality were present.
The study narrowed down on males between the ages of 58 and 93 specifically. Each individual assessed had previously reported insomnia symptoms and was free of other conditions such as cancer and diabetes. Dietary intake of the selected individuals was collected and recorded until 2006, two years after the reported insomnia symptoms. External factors affecting a subject’s diet were taken into account and controlled for.
It was found that men with probable insomnia had a higher mean calorie consumption. Levels of trans fat, and sodium were higher than the average rates as well, while a significant decline in consumption of vegetables was found. Several insomnia symptoms were correlated with specific dietary effects. Individuals experiencing nonrestorative sleep and a difficulty in maintaining sleep also saw a greater energy intake. Men who underwent a difficulty in initiating sleep also experienced similar dietary trends.
The research concluded that insomnia is associated with dietary trends such as higher intakes of energy, fats, and sodium. A lower vegetable intake was also recorded. The findings of this study certainly provide evidence regarding the adverse health effects of insomnia and its symptoms. It should, however, be pointed out that the results are narrowed down to a specific gender and age group, and therefore may not reflect trends of the entire population. These results are highly beneficial to medical and health professionals in being able to provide medical and nutritional aid for insomnia patients to better improve their overall health, by targeting the significant dietary changes.
Written By: Shrishti Ahuja, BSc