A recent study conducted at King's College London has shown that getting a few extra hours of sleep each night has a surprising effect on dietary choices. The researchers conducted a randomized clinical trial on adults 18 to 64 years of age and published some truly striking results in the January 2018 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Read on as we explore this fascinating study.
Study: More Sleep Leads To Healthier Dietary Choices
For the study, researchers assessed 42 subjects over a period of four weeks.1 Study subjects, all of which averaged between five and seven hours of sleep per night, were habitually short sleepers. Half of these subjects received professional sleep hygiene behavioral consultation to improve their overall sleep quality and increase their overall time in bed by nearly an hour each night.
After getting more sleep for several weeks, study participants reported significant decreases in the consumption of unhealthy foods such as sugar, fats, and carbohydrates when compared with the control group, which continued to experience short sleep patterns. For example, the typical sleep extension group individual consumed just 3.1 grams of free sugars per day by the end of the study. This figure is well under half the 7.2 grams of free sugars that were consumed by the typical control group member.
This data shows that a longer night’s sleep is a simple lifestyle change that can lead to healthier dietary choices. In a world in which obesity and obesity-related conditions such as diabetes have reached alarming rates, this is great news. And a high sugar diet wreaks havoc on your health, including your bone health.
But any celebration must be curbed by the realities of sleep in our modern world. In short, for a large number of people, a good night’s sleep isn’t always easy to achieve.
A recent scientific study has shown that increased sleep leads to healthier dietary choices.
An Epidemic of Sleep Deprivation
According to the American Sleep Association, 3 to 5 percent of the overall obesity rate in adults can be attributable to short sleep periods.2 Adults need at least seven hours of sleep per night while teenagers and children require significantly more.
With as many as 70 million adults in the United States suffering from some form of sleep disorder, it should come as no surprise that sleep deprivation, alongside obesity, has reached epidemic proportions. In fact, only 63 percent of 20 to 39-year-olds, 60 percent of 40 to 59-year-olds, and 75 percent of adults in general report adequate sleep duration on a nightly basis.2
Inadequate sleep duration on a nightly basis has risen to epidemic proportions.
How Getting Enough Sleep Benefits Your Bones And Overall Health
As cited in a study published in The Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, obesity certainly isn’t the only health issue that has been tied to a lack of adequate sleep.3 Mild cognitive impairment, frailty, and depression are only a few of the life-altering problems that are associated with poor sleep quality and/or duration.
Research has also shown that sleep is absolutely essential for bone health. This is primarily due to a process called bone remodeling or bone turnover. A lifelong bodily function in which mature bone tissue is reabsorbed by the skeleton and new bone tissue is formed through ossification, bone remodeling occurs while we sleep.
Because a natural diurnal sleep rhythm is necessary to support the normal bone remodeling process, it should come as no surprise that the relationship between sleep and bone health has been long established. Although firm causality cannot be established from this analysis, a comprehensive 2003 National Sleep Foundation survey found that individuals with osteoporosis were 67% more likely to report decreased nightly sleep times.
At the Save Institute, we recommend that adults get a minimum of seven hours of sleep on a nightly basis.
In addition to other essential bodily processes, bone remodeling occurs while you are asleep. Getting at least seven hours of sleep each night ensures that this critical process will take place so you can build and maintain strong and healthy bones.
How To Get A Better Night’s Sleep
Before assessing the effects of longer sleep duration on sugar, fat, and carbohydrate consumption, the aforementioned King's College study had to increase the nightly sleep time of the 21 subjects in its sleep extension group. In the wake of sleep hygiene behavioral consultation, this group experienced significant improvements in both the quality and length of their sleep.
When compared with the control group, the sleep extension group stayed in bed 55 minutes longer each night and reported a 47-minute increase in overall sleep periods. Because many adults fall short of minimum sleep recommendations by less than an hour, these figures represent a significant potential to dramatically boost the overall health levels of people around the world.
Not getting enough sleep? A study published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism has shown that altering your habits in simple and practical ways can lead to tremendous improvements in your sleeping patterns.4
Here are some valuable suggestions to help you sleep longer and better each and every night.
Boost Your Melatonin Levels
A hormone that is naturally secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, melatonin is essential for the effective regulation of your sleeping and waking cycles. Although taking melatonin supplements can lead to a hormonal imbalance, the consumption of certain foods, such as alfalfa sprouts and sunflower seeds, has been proven to increase melatonin levels safely and effectively.5
To read more on how and why melatonin improves bone health and foods that contain it, please click here.
Manage Your Exposure To Light And Illuminated Screens
You can get on track to a better night’s sleep by simply changing your light bulbs. Using lower wattage bulbs that emit a softer light can boost melatonin production causing you to sleep more soundly. It is also best to limit exposure to televisions, computers, tablets, and smartphones a few hours before going to sleep. The screens on these devices emit a type of light that has been proven to disrupt natural sleep cycles.6
Simple lifestyle changes, such as naturally boosting your melatonin levels and reducing your exposure to bright lights and illuminated screens, will help you to get more sleep.
A Holistic Approach To Health
As the study on sleep duration and dietary choices that we looked at today has shown, our health is a web of interrelated biochemical processes that affect different biological pathways. So rather than taking the reductionist approach to health, as is the norm in the Medical Establishment, at the Save Institute we take the holistic approach, to help you improve much more than your bone health.
Stop Worrying About Your Bone Loss
Join thousands of Savers from around the world who have reversed or prevented their bone loss naturally and scientifically with the Osteoporosis Reversal Program.
1 Haya K Al Khatib, Wendy L Hall, Alice Creedon, Emily Ooi, Tala Masri, Laura McGowan, Scott V Harding, Julia Darzi, and Gerda K Pot. “Sleep extension is a feasible lifestyle intervention in free-living adults who are habitually short sleepers: a potential strategy for decreasing intake of free sugars? A randomized controlled pilot study.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. January 2018. 107 (1): 43–53. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqx030.
2 The American Sleep Association. “Sleep and Sleep Disorder Statistics.” https://www.sleepassociation.org/about-sleep/sleep-statistics/
3 Christine M. Swanson, M.D; Steven A. Shea, Ph.D.; Katie L. Stone, Ph.D.; Jane A. Cauley, Ph.D.; Clifford J. Rosen, M.D.; Susan Redline, M.D. MPH; Gerard Karsenty, M.D. Ph.D.; and Eric S. Orwoll, “Obstructive sleep apnea and metabolic bone disease: Insights in to the relationship between bone and sleep.” The Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. February 30, 2015. 30(2): 199–211. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jbmr.2446/abstract;jsessionid=382EB4D6125566823A309F16C279B41D.f02t04
4 Joshua J. Gooley, Kyle Chamberlain, Kurt A. Smith, Sat Bir S. Khalsa, Shantha M. W. Rajaratnam, Eliza Van Reen, Jamie M. Zeitzer, Charles A. Czeisler, and Steven W. Lockley. “Exposure to Room Light before Bedtime Suppresses Melatonin Onset and Shortens Melatonin Duration in Humans.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. March 2011. 96(3): E463–E472. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21193540
5 Xiao Meng, Ya Li,1 Sha Li, Yue Zhou, Ren-You Gan,3 Dong-Ping Xu, and Hua-Bin Li. “Dietary Sources and Bioactivities of Melatonin.” Nutrients. April 9, 2017. 9(4): 367. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5409706/
6 Christian Cajochen, Sylvia Frey, Doreen Anders, Jakub Späti, Matthias Bues, Achim Pross, Ralph Mager, Anna Wirz-Justice, and Oliver Stefani. “Evening Exposure to a Light-Emitting Diodes (LED)-Backlit Computer Screen Affects Circadian Physiology and Cognitive Performance. The Journal of Applied Physiology. May 1, 2011. 110(5). 1232-1438. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00165.2011