Men with sleep apnoea and daytime sleepiness may be more likely to have a fatty diet.

Since 2009, almost 2000 men living in Adelaide have been part of the MAILES study (Men Androgen Inflammation Lifestyle Environment and Stress) that has followed their health in detail. These men have provided new data on how diets can affect the risk of sleep apnoea. Sleep apnoea is a dangerous condition where there is a partial blockage of the airways during sleep.

For a brief period of time sufferers stop breathing before rousing themselves with either a large snore or a startled big deep breath. Either way, regular apnoea attacks lead to a fitful night’s sleep. People with sleep apnoea often experience daytime tiredness, making it difficult to concentrate and remain focused during the day ahead.

The risks of sleep apnoea are increased by weight gain and diabetes so any strategy that helps trim the kilograms is beneficial. There may also be other lifestyle effects that can increases the risks.

A fatty meal has been shown in earlier studies to increases the risks of apnoea during the night, so the researchers at Adelaide University were interested in analysing the diets of men with sleep apnoea.

As expected in the men from the MAILES study, the heaviest were most at risk of sleep apnoea. When the diets of these men were analysed further, it was those who had the fattiest meal the night before the analysis of sleep patterns who experienced the greatest daytime tiredness. Therefore, it was how fatty the evening meal was that the strongest predictor of the degree of daytime tiredness.

Implications

The key finding of this study is that to get a good night’s sleep and to be able to make the most of the day ahead, it’s best to limit fatty foods late in the day. A low fat evening meal may improve the ability to stay alert and focused for the next day.

Last Reviewed: 22/09/2019

© Norman Swan Medical Communications.



References

Cao Y et al. Associations between macronutrient intake and obstructive sleep apnoea as well as slf- reported sleep symptoms: Results from a cohort of community dwelling Australian men. Nutrients Epub online April 8, 2016. doi: 10.3390/nu8040207.