“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,” said Aric A. Prather, assistant professor at the University of California San Francisco.
“This data suggests that improving people’s sleep could potentially help them break out of the cycle and cut down on their sugar intake, which we know to be linked to metabolic disease,” Prather added.
To understand whether this is a more general pattern in the adult population, the researchers in the study published in the journal Sleep Health analysed the records of around 18,000 participants.
The study included participants’ reports of how much sleep they usually got during the work week, as well as 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.
The researchers found that people who regularly slept five or fewer hours per night also drank 21 per cent more caffeinated sugar-sweetened beverages — including both sodas and non-carbonated energy drinks — than those who slept seven to eight hours a night.
People who slept six hours per night regularly consumed 11 per cent more caffeinated sugar-sweetened beverages. On the other hand, the team found no association between sleep duration and consumption of juice, tea or diet drinks.
“Sleeping too little and drinking too many sugary drinks have both been linked to negative metabolic health outcomes, including obesity,” Prather added.
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, the study suggests