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Here’s why sleeping more can help you eat healthier foods

Getting enough sleep—around seven to nine hours a night, as the experts say—is now widely known as one of the most important parts of building a strong and lean body (along with actually going to the gym and eating healthy whole foods). And yet, even though we know restful sleep is vital to good health, people around the world are still not getting enough sleep—about 35% of Americans don’t hit seven hours a night.

Here’s one statistic that might convince them to spend a little more time in bed: Sleeping more won’t just help rebuild your muscles as you snooze, but also help you eat healthier during the day. Specifically, people who sleep more tend to cut back on sugar by about 10g a day, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In the small study, scientists gave 21 people a sleep consultation—21 control participants didn’t get briefed—with a list of strategies to help them extend their typical time in bed by up to 1.5 hours a night. Their sleep duration and time in bed before they fell asleep were monitored by wearable tech, and they also asked to keep sleep and nutrition diaries during the seven-day study period. The results showed that 86% of those who got the sleep consult increased their time in bed, with about 50% getting up to 90 minutes more slumber. The people who were able to extend their sleep also showed the almost 10g decrease in sugar consumption.

“Our results also suggest that increasing time in bed for an hour or so longer may lead to healthier food choices,” said study co-author Haya Al Khatib, Ph.D. candidate and researcher in the department of nutritional sciences at King’s College London. “This further strengthens the link between short sleep and poorer-quality diets that has already been observed by previous studies.”

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