We need to help our patients continue to make the best decisions in regards to their overall health and well-being. So, what does that entail? It means paying attention to their sleep patterns, as well as the quality of sleep. In particular, women need to understand how their sleep impacts their health. What we know is, women who sleep poorly, tend to overeat and consumer a lower-quality diet. This leads to an increased risk of heart disease and obesity, which point to the possibility of sleep apnea.

We have seen that people who get less sleep are more likely to develop obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease—this might be partially due to diet. However, studies have narrowed the focus on specific foods and nutrients and sleep duration, rather than quality.

Sleep duration and nutrition

As study of nearly 500 women in the Journal of the American Heart Association analyzed sleep and eating habits. The study looked at sleep quality, the time it took to fall asleep and insomnia. Women in this study also shared the types and amounts of foods they typically eat throughout the year. This allowed researchers to be able to measure typical dietary patterns of these women.

What researchers found is that those who had worse overall sleep quality tended to consume more added sugars, which are commonly associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, women who took longer to fall asleep had higher caloric intake and ate more food by weight.

We also see that women with more severe insomnia symptoms also consumed more food by weight. They also consumed fewer unsaturated fats than women with milder insomnia.

Knowing this, it is important to address sleep patterns with our women patients to ensure they are receiving the best care possible.