Lack of sleep leads to sugary drink cravings

Getting less than five hours sleep a night makes it more likely you will reach for a can of sugary pop or energy drink - increasing the risk of diabetes.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 13th November 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 5:02 pm
Lack of sleep leads to sugary drink cravings
Lack of sleep leads to sugary drink cravings

Those who regularly slept five or fewer hours per night also drank a fifth - 21 per cent - more fizzy drinks and non-carbonated energy drinks high in both sugar and caffeine than those who slept seven to eight hours a night.

Those who got six hours sleep drank a tenth - 11 per cent - more caffeinated sugar-sweetened beverages.

Yet there was no link between how long someone slept and their consumption of juice, tea or diet drinks.

Yet it is unknown whether these sugar packed drinks which could contain caffeine is disrupting sleep or those tired from lack of sleep are using them for a pick-me-up.

University of California, San Francisco scientists said previous studies had suggested it could be a combination of the two..

But treating sleep disorders could help people reduce their sugar intake.

Assistant professor of psychiatry Dr Aric Prather said: “We think there may be a positive feedback loop where sugary drinks and sleep loss reinforce one another, making it harder for people to eliminate their unhealthy sugar habit

“This data suggests that improving people’s sleep could potentially help them break out of the cycle and cut down on their sugar intake, which we know to be linked to metabolic disease.”

Artificially sugar sweetened drinks has been linked to metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions including high blood sugar and excess body fat, which can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes.

A lack of sleep also has a higher risk for metabolic disease.

Other studies have shown sleep deprived children also drink for fizzy drinks or energy drinks during the day.

Prof Prather added previous research also strongly indicated that sleep deprivation increases hunger, particularly hunger for sugary and fatty foods.

He said: “Short sleepers may seek out caffeinated sugar-sweetened beverages to increase alertness and stave off daytime sleepiness.

“However, it’s not clear whether drinking such beverages affects sleep patterns, or if people who don’t sleep much are more driven to consume them.

“Unfortunately, the data in the current study do not allow us to draw any conclusions about cause and effect.”

The new study analysed the 2005-2012 records of 18,779 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES), an ongoing study of dietary habits and health status in a nationally representative sample of US adults.

The study includes participants’ reports of how much sleep they usually got during the work week, as well as their total consumption of various beverages, including caffeinated and non-caffeinated sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juice, drinks with artificial sweeteners, and plain coffee, tea and water.

Additionally, Prof Prather, said sleep duration figures were based on self-reporting, which might not accurately reflect the participants’ true sleep patterns.

He said: “It will be important to have additional studies with more objective measures of sleep such as EEG recordings or wearable sleep monitor.

“We also need long-term prospective studies to better understand how sleep and sugary beverage consumption affect one another over time.”

But he concluded: “Sleeping too little and drinking too many sugary drinks have both been linked to negative metabolic health outcomes, including obesity.

“Given the likely two-way relationship between sugary drinks and short sleep, enhancing the duration and quality of sleep could be a useful new intervention for improving the health and well-being of people who drink a lot of sugary beverages.”

The study was published in the journal Sleep Health.