A Tufts Study Says Sufficient Sleep May Lead to Better Nutrition Choices

In the study, those who got enough rest were more likely to choose healthy foods.

It’s no secret that getting enough sleep is crucial to good health. Further advocating adequate shut eye is a new study from Tufts University, which suggests that there’s a link between getting enough sleep and diet choices.

The Tufts researchers, led by Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy’s Hassan Dashti, conducted an international survey of nearly 15,000 people to examine the link between sleep and food choice. Dashti and his team analyzed the survey responses to look for correlations between how much the respondents slept each night, and how often they chose foods high in fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

The results showed that those who slept enough were less likely to eat lots of saturated fats and carbohydrates, two foods commonly linked to weight gain. Specifically, young adults who slept well often chose to consume less saturated fat than their peers. Women in older age groups who reported getting more sleep also tended to eat relatively fewer carbohydrates.

In a statement, Dashti said the findings, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that well-rested individuals are more likely to select healthier meals in general:

“Our results suggest that the connection between sleep and weight may be partly due to food choices,” Dashti said. “The results consistently suggest that better-rested adults tend to have healthier intakes, particularly related to fat intake, than those sleeping fewer hours.”

Dashti’s research also looked at variations in participants’ CLOCK genes, the components of the circadian clock linked to sleeping and eating habits. While none of their genetic findings were conclusive, the results did suggest that good sleep habits may help ease predispositions to obesity for people with a specific CLOCK mutation.

The moral of the story: If you’re trying to stick to your diet, turning in early could be the key.