Sugar and spice, are you up all night?
Hitting the national headlines,
research from Queen Mary University sparked warnings from the World
Obesity Federation how we must cut our sugar intake to fight
growing British flab.
Experts claimed slashing the sugar content of sweet
drinks by 40 per cent over the next five years could prevent a
million cases of obesity and 500,000 cases of people being
overweight in the UK
But can our sleep patterns effect our waist line? Or more
importantly, is the amount of sugar we consume causing us to lose
out on precious hours of shut eye.
University of Leeds, Lead scientist, Dr Anna Weighall
- who recently worked with Silentnight on an in-depth sleep study -
claims there is a real link between the amount we sleep and how
much we crave sugary treats.
"With talk of a 'sugar tax' we are all increasingly
aware of the negative effects of sugar on the nation's health,
especially in relation to weight gain and obesity." said Dr Anna
"However, scientists have also shown that our diet
can be important for sleep too. There is evidence that both
adults and children who eat high calorie diets are more likely to
Siting research by the Journal of Sleep Disorders:
Treatment & Care found of those sampled a sugary diet did in
fact impact their sleep. The findings showed the diets of young
people especially suggested evidence for high calorie diets
resulting in shorter sleep.
Scientists found weight gain and obesity resulted in
hormonal changes associated with greater caloric intake that result
from inadequate sleep.
Health research found the production of leptin - a
hormone that reduces hunger and peaks during sleep - is decreased
when sleep is decreased. While leptin decreases hunger, a hormone
called ghrelin increases hunger.
A reduction in sleep increases the ghrelin release
through the body and works the body to crave sweet, salty and
typically calorific foods.
Joining the sugar tax sleep debate, our resident
sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakham, said she believed for sensitive
sleepers - sugar must be avoided.
"What is interesting from the research is that we see
how quite quickly the relationship between sugar and sleep can
become a negative cycle - with what we put into the body disrupting
our sleep patterns, we are then kept awake and our body begins to
crave all the the things which keep us awake," says our Sleep
expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan.
"Sugar can cause more restlessness and hyperactivity,
especially if you're a sensitive sleeper so best to minimise
it. I would encourage people to break the cycle with a low
sugar or better still sugar free drink before bed. If you have a
hot drink before you go to sleep, it best to make it with almond
milk which is high in tryptophan which is proven to improve
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that
poor sleep is associated with weight gain, obesity and diabetes.
Interestingly, recent studies have also found sleeping badly could
also affect our will power, reducing our ability to resist those
Dr Anna Weighall concluded: "There is strong evidence
for the link between eating well and sleeping well. More
research is needed which means it is difficult to identify the
specific effects of sugar on sleep, but the research does indicate
that high calorie diets, which are likely to be sugar loaded, are
bad for sleep.
"My recommendation would be we view
both diet and sleep as really important factors in improving the