Help clients get better sleep with these 5 tactics

Help clients get better sleep with these 5 tactics

As a nutrition professional, you can help your clients get better sleep by recommending certain dietary and lifestyle suggestions. From reducing caffeine intake to taking certain supplements, here are some ways that you can help your clients improve their health and get a more restful night. 

According to the CDC, up to 35% of adults in the United States don’t get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night [1]. This is a distressing statistic, as deprivation can wreak havoc on overall health and could leave your nutrition client wide open for fatigue, stress, and emotional eating throughout the day. Moreover, it increases their risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and obesity, and ultimately hinders them from reaching their nutritional and lifestyle goals.

As a dietitian, you can help your clients get better sleep through nutritional support and improved resting habits. Not only will get a more restful night help your clients reach their nutrition goals, but it will also improve their happiness, productivity, and quality of life. Before we discuss some tactics for improved rest, let’s understand the importance of sleep and how a lack of it can negatively impact your clients’ overall health and wellbeing.

Why is sleep important?

It is important to help the body function properly, which is why getting the recommended 7-9 hours each night helps you feel refreshed and alert, stave off diseases, and stay healthy. Additionally, it can help your clients eat more regularly, improve exercise performance, and reduce their risk of chronic disease. 

Some benefits of good sleep quality and habits include:

  • Increased cognitive performance. Studies have found that those who get better rest have improved academic performance, as well as enhanced problem-solving skills and memory performance [15, 16, 17].
  • Increased mental health. Research suggests that regular, good-quality sleep decreases the risk of developing anxiety and depression, whereas inadequate rest increases this risk [18].
  • Improved immune system. Adequate sleep has been linked to a stronger immune system. Studies show that those who rest fewer than 5-6 hours a night are four times more likely to develop a cold compared to those who get better hours (more than 7 hours a night) [19]. 

Consequences of sleep deprivation

A lack of sleep hinders the ability to concentrate, think clearly, and make important decisions. It can also lead to a host of other health issues, such as: 

  • Obesity. Research studies have found that those who sleep less than 7 hours per night have a 41% increased risk of developing obesity [5]. This is due to hormone dysregulation, as deprivation increases ghrelin levels and decreases leptin, which are hormones that can make your clients feel hungrier and cause them to eat more than necessary [7]. Moreover, a lack of sleep causes the body to crave foods that are higher in sugar and fat to compensate for exhaustion [8].
  • Increased risk of chronic disease. Chronic sleep deprivation can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, since studies have shown that those who sleep less than 7 hours per night have a 13% increased risk of death from heart disease [9, 10]. Poor sleep can also increase your client's risk of developing high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes [11,12].
  • Decreased brain function. Having poor quality or inadequate rest can decrease overall concentration, cognition and productivity [13,14]. This may cause your clients to experience bouts of brain fog and an increased inability to concentrate on important tasks, thus making it more difficult for them to reach their goals.
  • Impaired athletic performance. If your client is deprived, they may experience a decrease in sports performance. This could be due to a reduction in cognitive thinking skills (such as decision-making and clear thinking) and fatigue [4,6].

5 tactics to get better sleep

With such a direct correlation between sleep and overall health, it’s important to make sure that your client has enough rest. Here are some tactics that you can use to help your client.

1. Alter caffeine consumption

Caffeine can provide a quick boost of energy that offers short-term benefits on focus and performance, but if it’s consumed too late in the day it can worsen resting quality. Studies have shown that when caffeine is consumed up to 6 hours before bed, sleep patterns are disrupted which leads to a decrease in its quality [20,21]. Since caffeine can remain in the bloodstream for 6-8 hours, it’s recommended to stop intake in the early afternoon and stick to decaffeinated drinks for the remainder of the day.

2. Try some supplements

One of the most common supplements in these cases is melatonin, which has been shown to increase sleep quality by 15% [22]. Some other supplements to consider include magnesium, valerian root, ashwagandha, magnesium, and lavender, all of which induce relaxation, reduce stress, and improve rest quality [23, 24, 25]. 

Tip: if your client is suffering from other nutrient deficiencies, here’s how supplementation can help.

3. Regulate blue light exposure

The body uses its circadian rhythm to regulate when you should be awake or asleep, and blue light exposure (from phones, TVs, or other electronic devices) disrupts this cycle, as it makes it more difficult to fall–and stay–asleep [26,29]. Since getting natural daylight reduces the time it takes to fall asleep by 83%, you can suggest for your clients to get some natural light exposure and to limit blue light exposure at least two hours before bedtime [27,28]. 

4. Change eating times

Eating late in the evenings has been shown to negatively impact rest quality and inhibit the release of melatonin [30]. Instead, you can recommend that your clients eat at least two hours before bedtime to ensure better sleep.

5. Exercise regularly

Physical activity is one of the best ways to improve sleep quality and reduce symptoms of insomnia [31]. Studies have found that exercise can halve the time it takes to fall asleep and provide better quality throughout the night [32]. Although consistent exercise is important, any physical activity too late in the day can induce rest issues, so it’s recommended for your client to exercise in the morning or afternoons, if possible. 


Sleep is important for overall health, as it benefits the immune system, cognitive function, and mental health. However, deprivation can leave your nutrition client’s body wide open for fatigue, stress, and emotional eating throughout the day. Supplementation, altered caffeine intake, and daylight exposure can help your clients get better rest and reduce the risk of chronic disease.


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