First, let’s discuss what foods should be avoided. These are my opinions based off of discussions with ENT MDs, fellow sleep dentists, and nutritionists. There is no hard scientific research yet so I won’t be referencing anything.
Dairy products produce phlegm in the mouth and throat. This phlegm or mucus can cause the throat to close up or not breathe clearly. I typically explain to all my sleep patients to stop all dairy products at least 3 hours prior to sleep.
Peanut butter may have protein and help some people with their diet or post workout drinks, but late at night it does cause some stickiness in the throat and some minor allergy issues. We try to avoid all peanut butter 3 hours prior to sleep.
One of my favorite fruits is bananas, but it can cause mucus and airway issues. Bananas should be avoided an hour prior to sleep.
Alcohol is a central nervous system CNS depressant and should be avoided 2 hours prior to sleep. The heavy use of alcohol may cause central sleep apnea or elevate the snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
Marijuana edibles inhibit the CNS and can contribute too many issues affecting sleep. None 3 hours prior to sleep.
Narcotics (not a food, but I bunch it in) these will affect the CNS and may cause central sleep apnea, and in particular opioid addiction.
Second, when should people be eating for sleep apnea? It is best to not eat two hours prior to sleep. A full stomach at sleep can lead to weight gain because the body does not digest as well when sleeping, and we also see more acid reflux problems with full stomachs in sleep.
I prefer my patients to have their last meal about 3-4 hours prior to sleep, but stress at least 2. I also try to get patients to a 3 meal a day program and snacks limited to 2 times a day.
Can we advise on diets? Yes, and we should. I like to point out that most diets work for the first 2-4 weeks and weight loss under most plans works well in the beginning. After a month it is no longer a diet, but more of a behavior change.
There are good diets I point my patients towards like the Mayo Clinic Diet online, Nutrisystem, South Beach diet, or Weight watchers and the list goes on.
Whatever diet we point them towards our follow-up is important to get them to start and follow through. People need encouragement and support. At each of my follow up visits for sleep apnea treatment I ask about their diet. Even though as dentists we can no longer get paid for this by Medicare or medical insurances, we can still help by offering the guidance and support.
If you want to make money from a diet program you could do an MLM program like Beach Body, or affiliate marketing with things like the Mayo Clinic diet, or even selling nutritional supplements.
Did you know medical doctors are required to provide nutritional guidance or refer to a nutritionist all their diabetic patients that they have on a diabetic care program?