If you’ve tried everything, from food swaps to going cold turkey, there might be a much easier way to eat less sugar. It could be as simple as just getting enough sleep. Really.
If you’re not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep every night, there’s a really good chance that you find yourself craving some sweets once that 3 p.m. time hits. We’re not alone, and science proves it.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers performed a 45-minute sleep consultation on 21 participants, which would lengthen their sleep time by almost 1.5 hours every night. A second group of 21 people was also observed but they did not have a sleep consultation that would change their sleep patterns or encourage them to grab more snooze time.
Everyone who took part in the study was then tasked with keeping track of their sleep patterns (and how long they slept each night) as well as their diet for one week.
Immediately, researchers were able to see that those participants who made it a point to sleep longer each night (and get the recommended hours of sleep) consumed far less added sugar than they did before they started the study.
“The fact that extending sleep led to a reduction in intake of [added] 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,” says study author Dr. Wendy Hall, a senior lecturer in the Department of Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences at King’s College London.
Though the researchers did note that the group whose sleep was extended did not necessarily have higher quality sleep, that could largely be because, as we all know, a new sleep schedule takes some time to adjust to.
“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 short sleep and poorer quality diets that has already been observed by previous studies,” says lead researcher Haya Al Khatib from the Department of Nutritional Sciences. “We hope to investigate this finding further with longer-term studies examining nutrient intake and continued adherence to sleep extension behaviors in more detail, especially in populations at risk of obesity or cardio-vascular disease.”
If you’re looking to banish those sugar cravings for good, maybe getting some more shuteye could be the answer. Plus — let’s face it — we’re all looking for new reasons to sleep in, just a little bit more.