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Getting More Sleep May Help You Eat Less Sugar

From TIME - January 12, 2018

Sleeping at least seven hours a night may help people eat less sugar, according to a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The research also found that getting more shuteye was an attainable goal for healthy adults who typically got less than the recommended amount, and that simple strategies like reducing screen time before bed and avoiding coffee late in the day really did help.

Researchers at Kings College London wanted to see whether it was possible to successfully extend sleep duration in short sleepers with just a short one-time intervention. To find out, they designed a randomized controlled trial: First, they recruited 42 healthy adults who reported regularly sleeping between 5 and 7 hours a night, and asked them to wear sleep trackers and keep food and sleep diaries for one week.

Half of the volunteers then participated in a 45-minute sleep consultation with a sleep psychologist, which aimed to extend their time in bed by up to an hour and a half per night. The people in the study were counseled on why sleep is important, and each received a recommended bedtime along with a list of at least four behaviorspersonalized to their lifestylethey should try to adopt over the next few weeks.

Those behaviors included avoiding caffeine and electronic devices before bed, establishing a relaxing bedtime routine and not going to bed full or hungry.

The remaining volunteers did not receive a consultation and were told to go about their normal behaviors and keep their regular schedules. Both groups were then followed for four weeks. During the last week of the study, they again wore sleep tracking devices and kept sleep and food diaries.

The sleep intervention worked, at least for those four weeks: Of the people who received counseling, 86% increased their average time spent in bed. Half also increased their average time asleep, with increases ranging from 52 to 88 minutes. Among the people who did not receive a consultation, there were no significant changes.

The researchers also analyzed peoples food diaries to see if increased sleep could affect diet and nutrient intake. They found that people who extended their sleep patterns consumed, on average, 10 grams fewer added sugars per day at the end of the study, compared to the beginning. The numbers also suggested that those who slept longer consumed fewer fats and total carbohydrates as well, although those findings were not as strong.

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