Sleeping for longer leads to a healthier diet

January 9, 2018, King's College London
Credit: Charles Rondeau/public domain

Sleeping for longer each night is a simple lifestyle intervention that could help reduce intake of sugary foods and lead to a generally healthier diet, according to a King's College London study.

Sleep is a modifiable risk factor for various conditions including obesity and cardio-metabolic disease with some figures suggesting more than a third of adults in the UK are not getting enough sleep.

The randomised controlled trial, which is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at the feasibility of increasing sleep hours in adults who typically slept for less than the recommended minimum for adults of seven hours.

Alongside this, the researchers undertook a pilot investigation that looked at the impact of increasing sleep hours on nutrient intake. They found that extending resulted in a 10-gram reduction in reported intake of free sugars compared to baseline levels. The researchers also noticed trends for reduced intake of total carbohydrates reported by the sleep extension group.

The principal investigator, Dr Wendy Hall, from the Department of Nutritional Sciences observed: '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.'

The 21 participants allocated to the sleep extension group undertook a 45-minute sleep consultation which aimed to extend their time in bed by up to 1.5 hours per night. A further 21 control group participants received no intervention in their sleep patterns.

Each participant in the sleep extension group received a list with a minimum of four appropriate sleep hygiene behaviours that were personalised to their lifestyle (such as avoiding caffeine before bed time, establishing a relaxing routine and not going to bed too full or hungry) and a recommended bed time.

For seven days following the consultation, participants kept sleep and estimated food diaries and a wrist-worn motion sensor measured exactly how long participants were asleep for, as well as time spent in bed before falling asleep.

86 per cent of those who received sleep advice increased time spent in bed and half increased their (ranging from 52 minutes to nearly 90 minutes). Three participants achieved a weekly average within the recommended seven to nine hours. There were no significant differences shown in the control group.

The data also suggested, however, that this extended sleep may have been of lesser quality than the and researchers believe that a period of adjustment to any new routine may be required.

Lead researcher, Haya Al Khatib, from the Department of Nutritional Sciences commented: 'Sleep duration and quality is an area of increasing public health concern and has been linked as a risk factor for various conditions. We have shown that can be changed with relative ease in healthy adults using a personalised approach.

'Our results also suggest that increasing time in bed for an hour or so longer may lead to healthier food choices. This further strengthens the link between and poorer quality diets that has already been observed by previous studies.

'We hope to investigate this finding further with longer-term studies examining and continued adherence to sleep extension behaviours in more detail, especially in populations at risk of obesity or cardio-vascular disease.'

Explore further: Duration of sleep increases while sleeping difficulties decrease after retirement

More information: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2018). DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqx030

Related Stories

Duration of sleep increases while sleeping difficulties decrease after retirement

December 8, 2017
When people retire from work life, they sleep approximately 20 minutes longer than before retirement. The quality of sleep also improves, as retired people experience fewer early morning awakenings or nonrestorative sleep, ...

How much sleep do you really need?

July 20, 2017
(HealthDay)—Health initiatives typically center on diet and fitness. But the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society state that getting enough sleep is just as important as eating right and exercising.

Sleep and Alzheimer's disease connection

October 17, 2017
How often do you get a good night's sleep? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommend adults get an average of at least seven hours of sleep a night. Dr. Ronald Petersen, a Mayo Clinic neurologist, says ...

Sleep duration may affect the integrity of sperm DNA

October 16, 2017
A new study found a link between sleep duration and a measure of chromosomal health in sperm. The findings are published in the Journal of Sleep Research.

Sleep deprivation may cause people to eat more calories

November 2, 2016
Sleep deprivation may result in people consuming more calories during the following day, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis led by researchers at King's College London.

Study suggests that what you eat can influence how you sleep

January 14, 2016
A new study found that eating less fiber, more saturated fat and more sugar is associated with lighter, less restorative, and more disrupted sleep.

Recommended for you

As we get parched, cognition can easily sputter, dehydration study says

July 17, 2018
Anyone lost in a desert hallucinating mirages knows that extreme dehydration discombobulates the mind. But just two hours of vigorous yard work in the summer sun without drinking fluids could be enough to blunt concentration, ...

Study shows that people most affected by alcohol also most impacted by sleep deprivation

July 17, 2018
A team of researchers from the German Aerospace Center and Forschungszentrum Jülich has found that people who are most susceptible to alcohol intoxication are also most susceptible to cognitive problems due to sleep deprivation. ...

Self-control and obesity: Gender matters in children

July 16, 2018
A toddler's self-regulation—the ability to change behavior in different social situations—may predict whether he or she will be obese come kindergarten, but the connection appears to be much different for girls than for ...

1 in 9 U.S. adults over 45 reports memory problems

July 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—If you're middle-aged and you think you're losing your memory, you're not alone, a new U.S. government report shows.

Antioxidant benefits of sleep

July 12, 2018
Understanding sleep has become increasingly important in modern society, where chronic loss of sleep has become rampant and pervasive. As evidence mounts for a correlation between lack of sleep and negative health effects, ...

Footwear habits influence child and adolescent motor skill development

July 11, 2018
New research finds that children and adolescents who spend most of their time barefoot develop motor skills differently from those who habitually wear shoes. Published in Frontiers in Pediatrics, this is the first study to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.