Cut down on sugar for a good sleep

We all know that sugar is bad for our waistlines and that the more we eat and drink it, the more pounds we’ll pile on. Research from Queen Mary University in London recently pointed out that cutting the sugar content in sweet drinks by 40 per cent over the next couple of years would prevent a million cases of obesity in the UK.

But it isn’t just our weight that sugar affects, as scientists and Silentnight beds expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan have stressed the negative impact sugar has on our night’s sleep.

Dr Anna Weighall from the University of Leeds recently worked with Silentnight on an in-depth study, which found a correlation between how much shut eye we get and how much we crave sugar. Research documented in Sleep Disorders: Treatment & Care brought to light that high calorie diets in young people leads to a shorter sleep.

Leptin is a hormone that reduces hunger and it peaks during sleep, meaning it decreases with lack of sleep. With leptin keeping hunger pangs at bay, another hormone called ghrelin increases food cravings and is more present when you’re struggling to sleep,

“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.” Dr Weighall explained.

“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 sleep less.”

Dr Ramlakhan is adamant that sugar should be avoided near bed time, especially for sensitive sleepers.

“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 things which keep us awake,” she added.

“Sugar can cause more restlessness and hyperactivity, especially if you’re a sensitive sleeper so best to minimize 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 sleep.”

Fizzy drink consumption = Organs wrapped in fat

We all know that snacking on bags of crisps and bars of chocolate washed down with a litre of something fizzy is no good for our waistline or insides. In fact, very few people need another study to tell them the dangers of a diet high in sugar and fat, but unfortunately it’s an area of growing concern as obesity continues to soar across the world.

This time, latest research highlights the damage fizzy drinks cause to our insides, with those consuming the sugary beverages daily finding their organs wrapped in fat.

Scientists at the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in Massachusetts followed 1,000 middle-aged participants for six years to conclude their results. Everyone in the study was asked how often they drank fizzy drinks and underwent X-rays to determine how much visceral fat they had.

Visceral fat is harmful fat stored within the abdominal cavity, which means it lingers around a number of important internal organs such as the liver, pancreas and intestines. As well as making people pile on the pounds, visceral fat plays an important part in diabetes, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.

The results have been published in medical journal Circulation, with the team finding those who drank sugary or fizzy drinks every day put on nearly a litre in extra visceral fat over the six years. That’s 30 per cent more than those who never consumed the beverage.

Diet drinks didn’t yield the same results, which suggests it’s sugar that causes the problem. The team suggests that insulin resistance triggered by added sugar could be to blame for fat increase.

“There is evidence linking sugar-sweetened beverages with cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes,” Dr Caroline Fox, who led the new study, explained.

“Our message to consumers is to follow the current dietary guidelines and to be mindful of how much sugar-sweetened beverages they drink. To policy makers, this study adds another piece of evidence to the growing body of research suggesting sugar-sweetened beverages may be harmful to our health.”

Talk of a sugar tax is ongoing in Britain, with the latest study poised to add even more weight to the argument to make sugary treats more expensive.