1. This study showed that more pro-inflammatory diets led to higher wake-after-sleep-onset (WASO) amongst police officers, indicating increased sleep fragmentation and poor sleep.

2. Contrarily, a more pro-inflammatory diet was associated with improved subjective sleep quality in police officers.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

Approximately 30% of individuals in the United States receive less than 7 hours of sleep daily, as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. An even greater percentage experience insomnia or sleep apnea. Diet is of particular importance to sleep, with pro-inflammatory diets (such as a Western diet) affecting sleep. Furthermore, shift work has long been associated with sleep disturbances and ingesting pro-inflammatory diets, such as seen in police officers. In this observational cohort study, longitudinal and cross-sectional associations between inflammatory diet and sleep quality were examined amongst police officers.

Active-duty police officers were recruited from New York, United States of America. Baseline visits occurred between 2004 and 2009 (n=646), with follow-up visits between 2011 and 2015 (n=281) and 2015 and 2019 (n=240). Officers completed a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) that determined their frequency of consumption of 144 different foods and beverages. The Dietary Inflammatory Index (E-DII) was utilized to measure the pro- or anti-inflammatory nature of a particular diet, with higher scores indicating a more pro-inflammatory diet. Furthermore, objective sleep duration and subjective sleep quality were measured through several perimeters, such as sleep efficiency, wake-after-sleep-onset (WASO), and sleep latency (time between lying down and sleep onset).

Results demonstrated that every 1-unit increase in EDII (ie more pro-inflammatory diet) was associated with increased WASO (an objective indicator of poorer sleep and sleep fragmentation) in both night-shift and day-shift officers. Interestingly, more pro-inflammatory diets were associated with improved subjective sleep quality. However, this study was limited as the sample was mainly European-American males, thus limiting generalizability. Nonetheless, this study was significant in highlighting the bidirectional relationship between inflammation and sleep in police officers, which may be a target for future interventional studies.

Click to read the study in Journal of Sleep Research

Image: PD

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