They were divided into two groups and then trained one of the groups in good sleeping practices. Their goal was to extend each volunteer's nightly rest by up 1.5 hours. However, if a cause and effect is proven, Hall suggests that in the future sleep may be used in combination with dietary intake and physical activity as a holistic approach to preventing a number of health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
The remaining volunteers did not receive a consultation and were told to go about their normal behaviors and keep their regular schedules.
For the next 7 days, the participants kept sleep diaries. They also wore a motion sensor on their wrists that measured exactly how long they were asleep, as well as time spent in bed before falling asleep.
At the end of the study the results were quite interesting. These individuals had a less craving for sugar and carbohydrates compared to those who stuck to their earlier sleep routines. Around 86 percent of the participants who had 0received sleep consultation managed to increase their total time spent in bed, and 50 percent of the participants extended their sleep duration by 52 to 90 minutes every night.
For the study, the researchers selected 21 individuals and took them through a 45-minute sleep consultation program created to extend their sleep time by up to 1.5 hours in the very night.
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About 86 percent of participants who received sleep advice increased time spent in bed and half increased their sleep duration (ranging from 52 minutes to almost 90 minutes). The intake of free sugar includes the sugar which is added to foods by manufacturers or while cooking at home.
After carrying out this study, they reduce their unhealthy sugars intake by 10kg equivalent, which is also the equivalent of half a slice of cake with icing, or three chocolate digestives. This reduction is subconscious and at the moment it's not really clear what's behind the connection, but the results suggest that sleep extension may become an easy and feasible way for adults to help cut down on how much sugar they eat.
The researchers also tested whether an increase in sleep might affect nutrient intake. A study into extending sleep unexpectedly found that the recommended eight hours a night could also improve your diet, by significantly reducing sugar intake.
In saying this, it is important to also note that because the study was just a pilot, further research needs to be done to identify whether or not extending sleeping habits can really be the answer to a healthier weight. The recommended duration of sleep for healthy adults is around 7 to 9 hours of undisturbed sleep.