Sleeping for longer may lead to healthier diet

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Lie-ins make it harder to get to sleep the next night, setting you up for a troubled week.

A study by researchers at King's College in London found that getting the adequate amount of sleep each night can lead you to eat fewer junk foods that are loaded with sugars and fats.

There is also evidence to suggest that getting too little sleep, or poor sleep, may be linked to weight gain. This is a diet plan that sounds right up our alley, if you're into weight watching.

A new study has done the reverse by demonstrating, to the surprise of the researchers, that improved sleep has positive effects on diet. This lasted for about a month and after that, people reduced their sugar intake of about 9.9- 9.7 gram on daily bases. They also reduce their carbohydrate intake.

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Principal investigator, Dr Wendy Hall, of the Department of Nutritional Sciences said: "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".

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. Three of the participants achieved a weekly average of more than 7 hours sleep a night. On average the groups were able to add 90 minutes to their daily sleep patterns over the seven day study period.

They were asked to keep a constant bedtime, resist caffeine and food before bed and try and relax in the evenings. All the participants had a motion sensor on their wrists which kept a record of their sleeping hours and also record the amount of time they spent in bed before sleeping. They found some significant changes in those participants who increased the amount of sleep.

However, it is thought that the extended sleep experienced by the group who received sleep advice may not have been of the best quality. The study shows that more than one-third of USA adults get 6 hours or less of sleep each night which is lower than the standard sleeping time.

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There is growing evidence of a link between sleep quality, obesity and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.

Sleep habits can be changed with relative ease in healthy adults using a personalised approach.

They added that their findings suggest "increasing time in bed for an hour or so longer may lead to healthier food choices".

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