A recent study suggests that supplementation is recommended sleeping hours can lead to smarter snacks.
The research abstract has been published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the research will be presented in a poster session on October 18 at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in 2021.
The results suggest that people who miss the recommended seven or more hours of sleep at night may take worse snacks than those who follow closed-eyed guidelines.
The analysis of data on nearly 20,000 American adults showed a link between not meeting sleep recommendations and eating more snack-related carbohydrates, with added sugar, fat and caffeine.
It turns out that the preferred non-meal categories – salty snacks and sweets and non-alcoholic beverages – are the same among adults regardless of sleep habits, but those who get less sleep tend to eat more snack calories in a day in general.
The research also revealed what appears to be a popular American habit that is not affected by how much we sleep: snacking at night.
“At night, we drink our calories and eat a lot of convenience foods,” says Christopher Taylor, professor of medical dietetics at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Ohio State University and senior author of the study.
“Not only do we sleep when we stay up late, but we do all these obesity-related behaviors: lack of physical activity, increased screen time, food choices that we consume as snacks and not as meals. So doing so creates this greater effect. of meeting or not meeting sleep recommendations, “Taylor added.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society recommends that adults regularly sleep seven hours or longer at night to promote optimal health. Getting less sleep than recommended is associated with a higher risk of a number of health problems, including weight gain and obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
“We know that lack of sleep is associated with obesity on a larger scale, but it’s all these little behaviors that are rooted around how it happens,” Taylor said.
Researchers analyzed data from 19,650 U.S. adults between the ages of 20 and 60 who had participated from 2007 to 2018 in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
The study collected 24-hour diet calls from each participant – detailing not only what, but when, all food was consumed – and asking people questions about their average amount of night’s sleep during the work week.
The Ohio State team divided participants into those who either made or did not meet sleep recommendations based on whether they reported sleeping seven or more hours or less than seven hours each night. Using U.S. Department of Agriculture databases, the researchers estimated participants’ snack-related nutritional intake and categorized all snacks into food groups. Three snacking times were determined for the analysis: 2: 00-11: 59 am in the morning, noon-5: 59 pm in the afternoon and 6 pm-1: 59 am for the evening.
Statistical analysis showed that almost everyone – 95.5 percent – ate at least one snack a day, and over 50 percent of the snacking calories among all participants came from two broad categories that included sodas and energy drinks and chips, pretzels, cookies and pastries.
Compared to participants who slept seven or more hours a night, those who did not meet sleep recommendations were more likely to eat a breakfast and less likely to eat an afternoon snack and ate larger amounts of snacks with more calories and less nutritional value.
Although there are plenty of physiological factors that play into the relationship of sleep to health, Taylor said that changing behavior by especially avoiding nocturnal nosh could especially help adults not only meet the sleep guidelines but also improve their diet.
“Meeting sleep recommendations helps us meet the specific need for sleep-related to our health, but is also bound to not do the things that can harm health,” said Taylor, a registered dietitian. “The longer we are awake, the more options we have to eat. And at night, those calories come from snacks and sweets. Every time we make these decisions, we introduce calories and things related to increased risk of chronic disease, and we do not get whole grains, fruits and vegetables, “Taylor added.
“Even if you’m in bed trying to fall asleep, at least you’re not in the kitchen eating – so if you can get to bed, that’s a starting point,” Taylor remarked.
Co-authors of the study include Emily Potosky, Randy Wexler and Keeley Pratt, all of Ohio State.
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