Short And Sweet

Short and sweet

Sugar-sweetened drinks may lead to sleep deprivation

Who needs sleep when you can have sugary caffeinated drinks? A new study published in Sleep Health has found that treating sleep deprivation could actually help a person’s sugar intake.

Although it’s still not known if drinking sugar-sweetened beverages causes people to sleep less, or whether sleep deprivation makes people seek out more sugar and caffeine to stay awake. It’s feasible that both could be true when considering previous research according to lead researcher Aric A. Prather from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).

“We think there may be a positive feedback loop where sugary drinks and sleep loss reinforce one another, making it harder for people to eliminate their unhealthy sugar habit,” says Prather.

The study examined the dietary habits and health status of 18,000 adults in the US. Participants reported the amount of sleep they were having during the work week and their total consumption of various beverages — including caffeinated and non-caffeinated sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juice, drinks with artificial sweeteners, and plain coffee, tea and water.

“Sleeping too little and drinking too many sugary drinks have both been linked to increased appetite and obesity. Given the likely two-way relationship between sugary drinks and short sleep, enhancing the duration and quality of sleep could be a useful new intervention for improving the health and well-being of people who drink a lot of sugary beverages,” said Prather.

Eight hours of sleep is what is commonly regarded as the ideal night’s rest. However, survey results released by the Australian Sleep Health Foundation show a high percentage of Australians are suffering from fatigue and exhaustion on a daily basis due to inadequate or ineffective sleep.

Professor David Hillman, President, Sleep Health Foundation (SHF) said, “In Australia at least nine per cent of serious road crashes are due to fatigue, this equals 25,920 injuries per annum with associated costs of $277,912 per accident.

In the workplace there are currently 9,584 fatigue related injuries per annum, each costing $131,912.  “It is time for people to make sleep a priority: 18 per cent of adults regularly sleep less than six hours per night and 20 percent suffer chronically from poor sleep, half of these from a sleep disorder and the remainder from poor sleep habits.”

Of the 1500 people surveyed by the Sleep Health Foundation 16 per cent stated they didn’t get adequate or satisfactory sleep every night and 24 per cent said they suffered from fatigue and exhaustion several days a week.

In light of this information, the National Sleep Foundation updated its recommendations to include both new age categories and widening in the duration of sleep for many groups. These changes better reflect the importance that age has on one’s resting patterns.

How much shuteye do you need? It varies from person to person but generally:

  • Newborn (0-3 months): 14-17 hours (previously: 12-18 hours)
  • Infant (4-11 months): 12-15 hours (previously: 14-15 hours)
  • Toddler (1-2 years): 11-14 hours (previously: 12-14 hours)
  • Pre-schooler (3-5 years): 10-13 hours (previously: 11-13 hours)
  • School-age child (6-13 years): 9-11 hours (previously: 10-11 hours)
  • Teen (14-17 years): 8-10 hours (previously: 8½-9½ hours)
  • Young adult (18-25 years): 7-9 hours (new category)
  • Adult (26-64 years): 7-9 hours (no change)
  • Older adult (65+ years): 7-8 hours (new category)

These hours are simply a guideline. In reality, the ideal amount of sleep differs for each individual. “If you can function during the day, then you’re getting enough sleep,” says Dr Andrew J. Westwood, assistant professor of Clinical Neurology Division of Epilepsy and Sleep Disorder at Columbia University Medical Centre in New York City. “The average person needs usually between seven and eight hours of sleep, but everyone is different.

You may have a sleep disorder if you have any of these:

  • snore frequently or loudly
  • stop breathing in your sleep
  • don’t get enough sleep
  • can’t sleep or wake up feeling tired

Call 02 4655 8855 where naturopaths can help diagnose the cause and provide an appropriate treatment plan specifically for you. Treatment plans may range from medical intervention to natural supplements, counselling, massage or hypnosis.

Good sleep health is a key requirement for preventing illness and maintaining wellbeing. It’s never too late to make sleep your priority today.

Read this book for an excellent reference for a good night’s sleep, “TIRED OF NOT SLEEPING? Wholistic program for a good night’s sleep” by Dr Sandra Cabot.

– Hirshkowitz, M, Whiton K, Albert SM, et al. National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Sleep Health. 2015.

– Prather AA, Leung C, Adler NE, Laraia B, Ritchie L, Epel ES. Study Links Shorter Sleep and Sugar-Sweetened Drink Consumption. Sleep Health. 2016.