To date, little is known about how dietary patterns may link to measures of sleep quality in older subjects, who often suffer from sleep problems. Here, we investigated, in an older male population from Sweden (n = 970; aged 71 ± 1 year), whether adherence to the Healthy Diet Indicator (HDI; based on recommendations from the World Health Organization) or the Mediterranean Diet (MD) is linked to sleep disturbances. The diet scores were calculated using a seven-day food diary, and self-reported sleep initiation or maintenance problems were assessed by questionnaires. When adjusted for potential confounders, no associations between dietary scores and sleep parameters were found. In contrast, low consumption of milk and dairy products -one of the dietary features of the MD -was associated with better subjective sleep initiation. This association was, however, not found in men with adequate reports of daily energy intake (~54% of the cohort). To summarize, our findings do not suggest that older men can mitigate perceived difficulties to fall and stay asleep by adhering to either the HDI or MD. Whether low consumption of milk and dairy products can facilitate sleep initiation must be confirmed in future studies by utilizing objective measures of sleep such as polysomnography. Finally, when investigating associations between dietary patterns and sleep, particular attention should be paid to the potential confounder of inadequate reporting of energy intake.
Keywords: dietary adherence; elderly population; healthy diet indicator; mediterranean diet; sleep problems.