Sleep is the body’s way of healingTherefore, not sleeping well is one of the conditions that most deteriorates health. Ensuring a good rest not only prepares us for a productive day, it intervenes in our energy levels and mood. Sleeping well makes us feel renewed and relaxed, which is why it is very important to pay attention to any type of sleep disorder that one suffers. Recently a new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, found that people who usually sleep less than the recommended hours of sleep per night They could make worse snack decisions. In addition, this research will be presented on October 18 at the 2021 Food and Nutrition Conference and Exhibition.
Among the most interesting data about this research work, without a doubt is the breadth of the sample since the analysis of the data had information from almost 20,000 American adults. And showed a link between not meeting sleep recommendations and eating more snack-related carbohydrates, added sugar, fat, and caffeine. It turns out that the food categories that are not preferred foods, such as: sweet and salty snacks and non-alcoholic beverages; they are the same among adults regardless of sleeping habits. However, the study showed that those who sleep less tend to eat more calories from snacks in an overall day.
The research also revealed what appears to be a popular American habit that is not influenced by how much we sleep: eat snacks at night. It is well known that it is one of the habits that most deteriorate health, since it is a direct cause of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension and various cardiovascular conditions. According to the study’s lead author, Christopher Taylor who is a professor of medical dietetics at the Ohio State University College of Health and Rehabilitation: “At night, we drink our calories and eat a lot of prepared foods.”
The most worrying thing is that when we stay up late, not only do we not sleep; we are complying with all obesity-related behavior: lack of physical activity, more time in front of the screen, poor food choices that are characterized by being prepared meals, ultra-processed and in many cases fast foods. In the long run the result is fatal, not only in the sleep cycle, all health deteriorates.
While it is true that each person may need different hours of rest, there are parameters that must be met. According to, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society recommend that adults get seven or more hours of sleep a night on a regular basis to promote optimal health. Sleeping less than recommended is associated with an increased risk of a number of health problems, including weight gain and obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. In addition, it is one of the main causes of alterations in mood and increases the risk of suffering from stress, depression, anxiety and mood swings.
According to Taylor’s statements: “We know that lack of sleep is related to obesity on a larger scale, but it is all these little behaviors that are based on how the risk is increased.” Researchers analyzed data from 19,650 American adults between the ages of 20 and 60 who had participated from 2007 to 2018 in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
What did the study consist of? The survey collected 24-hour dietary reminders from each participant, detailing not just what, but when, all of the foods were consumed, and asked people about the average amount of nighttime sleep during the work week. The Ohio State team divided the participants into those who did or did not meet the sleep recommendations based on whether they reported sleeping seven or more hours or less than seven hours each night.
Using databases from the US Department of Agriculture, the researchers calculated the nutrient intake related to the participants’ snacks and They classified all the snacks into food groups. For greater precision, three periods of snack times were established for the analysis: 2: 00-11: 59 am for the morning, from 5:59 pm in the afternoon and from 6 pm to 1:59 am to classify the night. Statistical analysis showed that almost all participants, that is, 95.5% ate at least one snack a day, and more than 50% of the snack calories among all participants came from two broad categories that included sodas, energy drinks, and chips, pretzels, cookies, and cakes.
Compared to participants who slept seven or more hours a night, those who did not meet sleep recommendations were more likely to have a morning snack and less likely to have an afternoon snack. What was most striking is that they used to consume higher amounts of caloric snacks and those of lower nutritional value. Although there are many physiological factors at play in the relationship between sleep and health, according to experts changing behavior by avoiding late night meals, in particular, could help adults not only meet sleep guidelines, but also to improve your diet and quality of life. “Meeting the sleep guidelines helps us meet that specific health-related need for sleep, but it’s also related to not doing the things that can harm your health,” Taylor said.
Finally: the longer we are awake, the more opportunities we will have to eat. And worst of all, usually at night all those extra calories come from High-glycemic carbohydrate-rich, sweet snacks. It is time to stop these behaviors, taking into account the alarming increase in the cases of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer and heart disease; Furthermore, we cannot forget that as a result of the pandemic, cases of insomnia increased significantly. To such a degree that it is estimated 1 in 3 Americans suffers from sleep disturbances. Remember that every time you make those late night snack decisions, you are introducing many additional calories to the body that not only increase the risk of chronic diseases: you are missing the opportunity to add healthier and more whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds and whole grains
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