Why is it so hard to quit sugar? U.S. study says the reason may be not sleeping well

A study published Wednesday in the American Heart Association(AHA) journal may be caused by not getting enough sleep if people find themselves eating too much added sugar and unhealthy fats, the American Heart Association reported Wednesday.

Why is it so hard to quit sugar? U.S. study says the reason may be not sleeping well


Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center reportedly looked at the association between the sleep quality and diet of nearly 500 women involved in the AHA project. The one-year project aims to study women’s sleep patterns and risk of cardiovascular disease.

The study found that the worse the quality of sleep and the less sleep they slept, the more sugar, saturated fat and caffeine these women consumed.

The researchers say these findings are crucial because women are highly likely to be obese and sleep disorders, and too much food can lead to such results. Foods rich in high sugars and unhealthy fats are also associated with health conditions and a number of diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

The less you sleep, the more you eat unhealthy foods.

Nearly 500 women between the ages of 20 and 76 were surveyed about their sleep patterns, sleep quality and food intake.

They report their sleep and diet on their own by filling out questionnaires, including how often they have ate a certain food in the past year, and their usual food intake.

More than one-third of the women in the study had poor sleep quality or some degree of insomnia. Nearly 30 percent of them slept less than seven hours a night, and nearly 25 percent slept less than seven hours a night and suffered from insomnia at the same time. The average sleep time for all participants was less than 7 hours.

Overall, women with poor or sleep-deprived foods consumed an extra 500 to 800 calories, which exceeded the total intake of saturated fat, added sugars and caffeine set out in the guidelines, but did not meet the recommended intake of whole grains and fiber.

The association between sleep problems and unhealthy diets

Studies have shown that one of the reasons sleep deprivation can lead to excessive satiety is that not getting enough sleep can stimulate hunger or suppress hormonal signals that transmit satiety.

Different degrees of insomnia will affect the hippocampus, which is responsible for controlling food intake in the human brain. If sugar and fat intake causes disorders of hippocampus activity, people’s cravings for unhealthy foods will be difficult to control.

“We’re more likely to make irrational decisions, and we’re more likely to make impulsive, emotionally driven decisions when we’re tired.” Maya Adam, director of Stanford University’s School of Health Education, said.

Brooke Agarwal, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and lead author of the study, said women’s vulnerability to obesity and sleep disorders are associated with a number of factors, including hormonal changes after pregnancy. Different stages of life, such as caring for children, sick partners or family members, can also trigger stress, leading to overeating and sleep disorders.

How do I get quality sleep?

To get better sleep and a better diet, agarwal says, it’s important to understand the link between sleep and diet, and that lack of sleep can lead to eating too much food. She says it’s also important to find out what’s causing sleep problems. Insomniacs can talk to their doctor about sleep or ask if cognitive behavioral therapy should be performed.

Ensuring “good sleep hygiene” also helps, Agarwal says, including keeping the bedroom light-free, cool and so on during sleep.

In addition, the report notes that a healthy diet can also promote sleep. Since women may eat more when they lose sleep, choose to eat more low-calorie foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes, lean meat, fat fish, and healthy fats.