The results of a new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that increasing the amount of sleep you get can lead to lower sugar intake. Researchers at King’s College in London worked with a group of 42 volunteers who were regularly getting less than the recommended minimum seven hours of sleep per night for adults.
The participants were divided in half with both groups having their sleep monitored by a wrist-worn device for seven days. They were also given a diary to track their food intake. The control group did not receive any counseling, but each member of the study group was given a 45-minute consultation that included tips on how to sleep better.
These tips were personalized to the individual lifestyles of each volunteer and included things such as avoiding caffeine and alcohol too close to bedtime, eating a sensible dinner so you don't go to bed too full or too hungry, establishing a nighttime routine that allows you to wind down before falling asleep and making your bedroom quiet, cool and dark so it is more conducive to sleeping.
There were no significant differences in the control group, but 86 percent of the study group increased their time spent in bed and half of them increased their sleep duration between 52-90 minutes. The study group also had on average a 10-gram reduction in sugar intake and exhibited reduced total carbohydrate intake.
Researcher Wendy Hall said, “The fact that extending sleep led to a reduction in intake of free sugars, by which we mean the sugars that are added to foods by manufacturers or in cooking at home as well as sugars in honey, syrups and fruit juice, suggests that a simple change in lifestyle may really help people to consume healthier diets.”
Fellow researcher Haya Al Khatib added, “This further strengthens the link between short sleep and poorer quality diets that has already been observed by previous studies. We hope to investigate this finding further with longer-term studies examining nutrient intake and continued adherence to sleep extension behaviors in more detail, especially in populations at risk of obesity or cardio-vascular disease.”