Those looking to cut out sugar, getting more sleep could help. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a link between getting more sleep and consuming less sugar.
A group of 42 people aged 18 to 64 who slept between five and seven hours each night took part in the study. The “sleep extension” group were given a 45-minute consultation about how to get a better night’s’ sleep, whereas the “control” group did not. All the participants wore sleep trackers and kept food diaries for the duration of the four-week trial.
The sleep consultations, which were led by a sleep psychologist and involved setting bedtimes and sleep-promoting behavior like avoiding electronics before bed, seemed to work for the “sleep extension” group: 86 percent of them increased the average time they spent in bed, and 50 percent increased their average time asleep by between 52 to 88 minutes.
Researchers also noticed an interesting side effect: Participants who increased their sleep also reported eating less sugar. They wrote in the study that “sleep extension led to reduced intake of free sugars” by an average of 10 grams per day.
“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,” researcher Wendy Hall told ScienceDaily.
The lead researcher, Haya Al Khatib, also told ScienceDaily that the study shows just how effective sleep interventions can be.
“Sleep duration and quality is an area of increasing public health concern and has been linked as a risk factor for various conditions,” Khatib said. “We have shown that sleep habits can be changed with relative ease in healthy adults using a personalized approach.”
This was a relatively small study, and the exact mechanism by which sleeping more can reduce one’s cravings for sugary things isn’t known yet. But for those who are trying to consume less sugar, try getting a good night’s sleep — it certainly can’t hurt.
[Editor’s Note: The information provided should not be considered a substitute for professional advice. Please consult a sleep doctor or other medical expert if personal health questions arise.]
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