Weight loss programs need to focus more on sleep. Most weight loss programs emphasize healthy eating and exercise, but neglect another critical component—adequate rest.


Why Weight Loss Programs Need to Worry About Sleep


What’s the connection between sleep and weight loss programs? New research adds to the existing science about sleep resetting hunger hormones. This new study also ties lack of sleep to sugar cravings.



New Study of Interest to Good Weight Loss Programs


A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that lack of sleep causes sugar carvings. Many of us experience sugar cravings from time to time and now we have research that points to sleep deprivation as one of the causes. Perhaps the trick to cutting cravings for sugary foods is as simple as getting a good night’s sleep.

More than one-third of U.S. adults get 6 hours or less of sleep each night. The recommended average is between 7 and 9 hours, depending on the person.


With that in mind, the researchers set out to examine whether a sleep consultation could help adults get more sleep and whether doing so affected their daily nutrient intake.


We’ve all had nights of frustrating tossing and turning and felt tired, cranky and out of sorts the next day. Often, our response to these feelings is to eat, thinking that we need more energy. You may find that you are particularly drawn to sugary sweets. What we really need is a nap.

Many prior studies have shown a link between missing out on the recommended minimum of 7 hours of nightly shut-eye and serious medical conditions. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to various health conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.



The Sleep Study Weight Loss Programs Need to Take Note Of


Here are the details of the new study that links lack of sleep with an increase in sugar cravings, consumption and weight gain.

• The researchers recruited 21 individuals to participate in a 45-minute sleep consultation designed to extend their sleep time by up to 1.5 hours per night.

• The group that got more sleep received a list with suggestions for how to help them get a better night’s sleep — such as avoiding caffeine before bedtime, establishing a relaxing routine and not going to bed too full or hungry — as well as a recommended bedtime suited to their lifestyle.

• Another group of 21 participants were also recruited but did not receive intervention in their sleep patterns. This was the control group.

• All of the participants were asked to record their sleep and dietary patterns for seven days.

• During this time, the participants also wore motion sensors on their wrists that measured the exact amount of sleep they got each night, as well as the amount of time they spent in bed before they actually fell asleep.


Study Results Show that Sleep Deprivation Increases Sugar Cravings and Intake



• The results showed that the participants who increased the amount of sleep they got each night reduced their added sugar intake by as much as 10 grams the next day compared with the amount of sugar they consumed at the beginning of the study.

• These participants also had a lower daily carbohydrate intake than the group that did not extend their sleep patterns.


Study Analysis


Senior study author Wendy Hall, a senior lecturer in the Department of Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences at King’s College London, said:

• “The fact that extending sleep led to a reduction in intake of [added] 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.”


Lead researcher Haya Al Khatib, a professor from in the Department of Nutritional sciences at King’s College London, said:

• “Sleep duration and quality is an area of increasing public health concern and has been linked as a risk factor for various conditions in the statement.

• We have shown that sleep habits can be changed with relative ease in healthy adults using a personalized approach.

• Our results also suggest that 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.

• We hope to investigate this finding further with longer-term studies examining nutrient intake and continued adherence to sleep-extension behaviors in more detail, especially in populations at risk of obesity or cardiovascular disease.”


Click here to read the full sleep study that shows that weight loss programs need to incorporate sleep as a critical ingredient.