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Health Team

Eating too much sugar? New study says try getting more sleep

Posted May 1, 2018 9:21 a.m. EDT
Updated May 1, 2018 9:24 a.m. EDT

Many people want to eat healthier foods, but sometimes old habits and sweet temptations get in the way.

A new study offers a potential remedy to the unhealthy eating cycle: get more sleep.

The new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests fighting unhealthy food cravings might not depend on will power alone.

"The people who extended their sleep were consuming less sugar, less percent fat and less total carbohydrates," said Dr. Leslie Heinberg, of the Cleveland Clinic.

Researchers looked at average-weight individuals who were not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night. One group slept less than seven hours while others tried extending their sleep by an hour and fifteen minutes.

After four weeks, the people who slept longer ate about 10 gram less of sugar than their counterparts.

Heinberg said people who are sleep-deprived tend to gravitate to foods that give them a "rush" of energy. Those foods are more likely to be simple carbohydrates, foods that are higher in sugar and foods that are higher in fat.

Once the rush of energy fades, though, it's followed by a crash, which eventually leads to weight gain, Heingerg said.

"Just getting a little bit more sleep can help you lose weight, but it also is going to help you focus better," Heinberg said. "It's going to help your mood, help your irritability; make you a safer driver, more productive at work."

Heinberg said the study results show how small changes, like simply going to bed a bit earlier, can help us feel better. She said that's not just true for losing weight but also for an overall feeling of well-being.