Scrap early gym sessions, a lie-in helps weight loss
Spending an extra 90 minutes in bed may not seem like the obvious way to lose weight, but according to a study, it could be the key to shedding excess pounds.
Scientists from King’s College London discovered people who sleep for longer are less likely to pick sugary treats, or reach for comforting carbohydrates.
Lack of sleep was already known to be a risk factor for obesity because it alters levels of hormones which control appetite. But the study showed by getting more sleep, people naturally choose healthier foods within a week, eating on average 10g less sugar each day.
Dr Wendy Hall, the principal investigator from the university’s 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.”
In the trial, 21 volunteers who slept for less than the recommended seven hours a night, were sent to counselling to help change their sleep habits. They were asked to keep a constant bedtime, resist caffeine and food before bed and try and relax in the evenings.
On average, the groups were able to add 90 minutes to their daily sleep patterns over the seven-day study. By the end of the week, they were naturally eating less sugar and carbs than at the start. No change was seen in a control group whose sleep did not improve.
Haya Al Khatib, the study’s lead researcher, said: “Sleep duration and quality is an area of increasing public health concern and has been linked as a factor for various conditions. Our results also suggest 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.”