- By Mary Caldwell For the AJC
Cookies, and brownies and sodas, oh my! If those thoughts are often on your mind, you may need a little more sleep, according to a new study out of the United Kingdom.
The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on Tuesday, found that sleeping longer hours may reduce cravings for sugary foods.
A small group of 21 participants participated in a 45-minute sleep consultation at the beginning of the study. By following simple tips such as establishing a relaxing pre-bedtime routine and going to bed at a recommended time, they were able to sleep up to 1.5 hours more each night. Another group didn't receive the consultation.
Each person in the study wore a wrist monitor to record his or her sleep for seven days, and participants also recorded what they ate during this time period. When participants increased their amount of sleep, they reduced the amount of sugar in their diet by as much as 10 grams the next day compared to the amount they took in before the study. They also ate fewer carbs when compared to participants who didn't sleep more.
"We have shown that sleep habits can be changed with relative ease in healthy adults using a personalized approach," lead researcher Haya Al Khatib, a professor from in the Department of Nutritional sciences at King's College London, said in the statement. "Our results also suggest that increasing time in bed for an hour or so longer may lead to healthier food choices."
The group that slept longer was given a suggestions on how to get a better night's sleep , like avoiding caffeine before bedtime, establishing a relaxing routine and not going to bed too full or hungry — as well as a recommended bedtime suited to their lifestyle.
"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."
Don't have sugary foods at home – if you don't have sugary foods in your house, they won't be as easily accessible.
Choose another sweet treat – Satisfy your sweet tooth with a piece of fruit instead of candy or a similar unhealthy snack.
Keep portion-controlled servings – Buy sugary snacks that are individually wrapped, such as ice cream sandwiches, and limit yourself to eating just one at a time.
Dilute sugary drinks – If you love sugary sodas or juice, try diluting them with an equal amount of seltzer to cut your sugar intake in half. As you get used to the reduced sugar, continue to increase the amount of seltzer.
Try chewing gum – Chewing a stick of gum can help reduce sugar cravings.
Combine foods – Satisfy your sugar craving by combining what you're craving with a healthier option. For example, try eating chocolate chips mixed with some almonds.
Eat regularly – If you eat regular meals and snacks, your blood sugar is less likely to dip and cause you to make unhealthy choices and reach for sugary foods.