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To Curb Sugar Cravings, Sleep More

Photo By Flotsam via Shuttersock


The obesity crisis continues to grip many western nations. Medical experts blame it on the lack of physical activities and excessive food intake.

Among the contributors to the overweight crisis are sugary foods. A new study said that cravings for sugar can be curbed by sleeping more. Obesity and cardiometabolic ailments such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke are among the various health conditions that doctors have attributed to not meeting the minimum requirement of seven hours of nightly sleep, Live Science reported.

Effect of lack of sleep on daily nutrient intake

Since past studies have shown that a lot of adults sleep six hours or less nightly, the researchers examined if sleep consultation could help them get more sleep and how it might affect their daily intake of nutrients. They recruited 21 people to take part in a 45-minute sleep consultation which was designed to prolong their sleep by 1.5 hours a night.

There was a second group, made up also of 21 volunteers, who were not given intervention in their sleep patterns. The 42 participants were made to record their sleep and dietary pattern for seven days. They were also made to wear motion sensors on their wrists to measure the exact amount of sleep they had each night and the length of time it took while they lay in bed before they actually fell asleep.

The volunteers who added the time of sleep each night cut their added sugar intake by up to 10 grams the following day compared to their sugar consumption at the start of the study. Those who underwent sleep consultation also registered lower carbohydrate intake every day compared to members of the control group.

Simple changes in lifestyle

Wendy Hall, a senior lecturer in the Department of Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences at King’s College London, said that the reduction in sugar intake suggested that a simple lifestyle change may really help people to eat healthier diets. The intake of added sugar included those that manufacturers added or food cooked at home and sugars in honey, syrups, and fruit juice.

Members of the control group were advised to avoid caffeine before bedtime, establish a relaxing routine, and not to sleep too full or too hungry to have a better night’s sleep. Haya Al Khatib, a professor from the Department of Nutritional Sciences at King’s College London, said the research showed that sleep habits can be changed with relative ease in healthy adults by using a personalized approach.

Khatib added that sleep quality and duration is an area of increasing public health concern and has been linked as a risk factor for different conditions, Eureka Alert reported.

Sleep advice increased the total time spent in bed by the participants by 86 percent.  Half of them prolonged the length of time of their sleep by 52 to 90 minutes a night compared with members of the control group. Three volunteers from the sleep-extension group even reached a weekly average of sleep within the seven to nine hours of sleep. But the longer time of snoozing may be of lesser quality than the sleep of the control group members because a new routine needs an adjustment period, the scientists explained.

Healthier food choices could happen if sleep time is extended by about one hour, the study results said. Khatib said that it reinforces the link between short sleep and poorer-quality diets that past studies have observed. The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Gene mutations linked to obesity

Meanwhile, another study by researchers at Imperial College London discovered that variants of a gene, adenylate cyclase 3, are linked to obesity which causes 2.8 million deaths annually worldwide, BT reported. ADCY3 is the instruction method that the genes use to create proteins. But because of the mutations, it does not function properly.

The protein instead codes forms abnormally that can lead to mutations related to diabetes and appetite control. The research found that 30 percent of Pakistani children who are obese have genetic links to the disease.

The researchers said it was due to recessive mutations that were passed on from parent to child, resulting from the high level of inter-family relationship in the particular population in Pakistan. They pointed out that parents who are closely related have higher chances of carrying the same mutation, so an offspring may inherit the mutation from both sides and cause it to take effect.

The genetic mutation is thought to affect a system which links the hypothalamus region in the brain to the production of hormones that regulate many biological functions. It includes appetite.

After the researchers identified the mutations in the Pakistani kids, they entered the results in GeneMatcher, a gene database, which led to another group of researchers in The Netherlands discovering a connection between obesity and ADCY3 in one patient.

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