Research: Sleep may reduce sugar cravings


More sleep may help you reduce your sugar intake and lose weight.  

Deadly sugar - Skull and Cross Bones

Deadly sugar – Skull and Cross Bones

Sleep is one of the most essential activities of every day.  I know that you do not get paid to sleep, but it is every bit as important to maintain your ability to earn a paycheck because it is essential to healing, recover from your daily activities, and to maintain focus from day to day.  That being said, there is also plenty of evidence from research to suggests that lower amounts of sleep or shorter duration of sleep may be tied to a higher level of obesity.  Sleep has been clearly identified as a modifiable risk factor for obesity.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2018 look at this very question1.  In the study, researchers assessed the feasibility of a personalized sleep extension protocol in adults aged 18–64 y who are habitually short sleepers.   The researchers used wrist actigraphy to assess sleep duration and collected data from 7-day diet journals to assess the effects of extended sleep on dietary intake.   The subject in the study numbered forty-two normal-weight healthy participants who were habitually short sleepers.  The study was four weeks long, and the subjects were randomized into two groups with twenty-one people group.   The sleep extension group received a behavioral consultation session targeting sleep hygiene. The control group maintained habitual short sleep.  The researchers found that the sleep extension group significantly increased time in bed with 47 minutes of additional sleep compared with the control group.  Sleep extension led to reduced intake of sugars 9.6 grams per day.  

I know you are telling yourself that 9.6 grams per day is not going to end in a significant weight loss.  A decrease in 9.6 grams of sugar equates to 38.4 calories per day and 14410 calories per year.  That would be 4 pounds of weight loss per year with little to no effort.  

The bottom line: Adding additional sleep appears to reduce sugar intake.  If you add a little sleep, you could lose weight with little to no change in your daily routine other than laying down an hour earlier to sleep.  This small change could end in lasting weight loss over time.  More research is needed.  


Al K, Hall W, Creedon A, et al. 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. Am J Clin Nutr. 2018;107(1):43-53. [PubMed]
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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