Sleeping for longer linked to healthier diet, says study

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A new study has done the reverse by demonstrating, to the surprise of the researchers, that improved sleep has positive effects on diet.

Spending an extra hour in bed each night may help reduce the intake of sugary foods and lead to a healthier diet, according to a study. These were found out when a group of people slept who slept 7 hours were given extra 21 minutes of their sleep.

Sidenote: while the sleep extenders increased their sleep duration, their sleep quality decreased (they slept longer, but not better) - perhaps because they needed more time to adjust to their new nighttime routines.

Volunteers in the other group continued with their pattern of getting insufficient sleep.

The researchers, from King's College London, said previous figures suggest more than a third of adults in the United Kingdom are not getting enough sleep. The subjects were also slightly sleep-deprived, closing their lids for between five and less than seven hours each evening. They also wore a motion-sensor on their wrists that measured their sleep and how look it took them to get to sleep after getting in bed.

Experts said the "simple lifestyle intervention" led to healthier diets as people are attracted to junk food when exhausted and have less time to eat bad grub if they are asleep.

Majority were able to increase the amount of time they slept by between 52 and 90 minutes a night through measures such as avoiding caffeine before bed, relaxing in the evening and not eating too much or too little before they put their heads down.

So if you're trying to get healthy or trying to lose a bit of weight, maybe start off seeing just how much kip you're getting and work from there. Among the control group, researchers saw no change.

"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", said investigator Wendy Hall.

Sleep is a modifiable risk factor for various conditions including obesity and cardio-metabolic disease, researchers said. We have shown that sleep habits can be changed with relative ease in healthy adults using a personalised approach. "This further strengthens the link between short sleep and poorer quality diets that has already been observed by previous studies".

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