August 2019 Issue

Editor’s Spot: Trouble Sleeping?
By Judith Riddle
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 21, No. 8, P. 4

As dietitians, you probably encounter many clients and patients who complain about having trouble sleeping. Some may have problems falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night, or both. As a result, they’re groggy, irritable, and sluggish the next day. When these sleep troubles, which are hallmarks of insomnia, become chronic, quality of life can go down the tubes. I know firsthand—I’ve been there.

According to the National Institutes of Health, about 30% of adults in this country complain of disrupted sleep. And there can be so many reasons for this: work stress, family stress, excessive caffeine and/or alcohol intake, medications, chronic pain, nicotine, and various sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and restless leg syndrome. Whatever the cause, dietitians know it’s imperative to discuss the importance of sleep for overall health and strategies to improve sleep habits with clients, and urge them to see their doctors if general lifestyle changes don’t make a difference. Sleeping well, after all, restores us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually; it also has an impact on metabolic health and weight management.

Much research has been done on the association between sleep quality and weight gain. Studies have shown that poor sleep quality can alter appetite hormones and lead to greater intake of calorie-dense foods during waking hours. But there’s also some research, though not as much, suggesting that what people actually eat during the day may impact the quality of their sleep. This is the subject of one of our features this month, “The Link Between ZZZs & Eats,” which surveys the evidence on the relationship between certain macronutrients and foods and sleep quality. This is an area where RDs certainly can help clients who are having trouble sleeping—barring any serious medical problems causing their insomnia.

Also in this issue are articles on green tea catechins, nutrition and academic performance, and popular weight loss programs. Please enjoy the issue!

Judith Riddle