Does the amount of sleep we get affect our diet and weight?

We live in the era of 24/7 but our bodies need rest so we can be at our best!. The general consensus is that adults require around 7-9 hours of sleep but teenagers can need more than this and of course it varies from person to person. The amount of sleep we have impacts on our quality of life and can affect the way we feel, look and perform.

Sleep and our Diet

Increasing research links sleep to our appetite. Most research focuses on two appetite hormones, ghrelin and leptin, which are related to feelings of hunger and fullness. It is thought that when we are sleep deprived we have increased feelings of hunger and this could be linked to weight gain. But could sleep also have an effect on what foods we choose?

We spoke to Haya Al Khatib, King’s College London, lead investigator of a study that investigated sleep extension as a potential strategy for decreasing intake of free sugars?

Haya says ‘we know that short sleep has been linked to increased risk of weight gain and metabolic diseases. The healthy duration for adults is 7-9 hours per night, but 1 in 3 adults identify themselves as short sleepers’.

Her research assessed if extending short sleep, can we improve markers of health. She noted only a small number of studies have attempted sleep extension and had to first find out whether it is possible to extend sleep in habitual short sleepers using a lifestyle approach. The SLuMBER study showed that using a personalized lifestyle approach, it is possible to lengthen sleep to a healthier duration. Haya highlighted that ‘the pilot investigation on diet, showed that the group who increased their sleeping time decreased their intake of free sugar by ~10g/day compared to controls – that’s one third the recommended upper limit of U.K. Dietary Guidelines.’

You can read the full randomized control study here.

Although dietary habits may have an important link between sleep and health, it was highlighted that we need longer RCTs investigating the effect of sleep extension on diet.

Sleep is only one part of the puzzle. Sleep is closely related to eating habits, control of stress levels and maintenance of physical activity levels. Most of us are aware of the simple strategies to getting a better sleep; Turning off our phones 1-1.5 hours before going to bed, dimming the lights and creating a calm and relaxing environment. We will spend one-third of our lives sleeping to ensure we are productive and energetic over the remaining two thirds, so what gets on our way and makes so many of us have poor sleep?

Let’s change this!

Our 3 tips for getting a better sleep

  1. We have been using the app Forest. We set our alarm and then ‘plant’ a tree when we start our evening routine to avoid using our phones before going to bed.
  2. However tempting Netflix can be, we try and relax in bed with a good book. We are currently reading Letters to my Fanny by Cherry Healey and Orthorexia: When Healthy Eating Goes Bad by Renee McGregor
  3. Dim the lights and light some candles. Despite being almost halfway through January we are still feeling Christmas Yankee candles! Crackling Fire and Festive Cocktail!

What are your top tips for getting a better sleep?

One Comment Add yours

  1. pursuingtheprocess says:

    My mum’s always told me that ‘sleep is golden’, and she couldn’t be more right. I know when I’ve not had enough, for sure.

    I don’t read much fiction, but I do find that reading an autobiography of someone I look up to helps take me off to dreamland.

    Liked by 1 person

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