Everybody wants to eat healthier — it’s likely one of the most common resolutions for the New Year. But it’s not easy, especially if you don’t realize that the process starts long before you’re looking at a menu or pulling items out of the fridge. Many factors go into our ability to eat healthy, including, according to a new study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, sleep.

The randomly controlled trial consisted of two groups of 21 people. The first, labeled the “sleep extension group,” undertook a 45-minute sleep consultation that aimed to extend their hours in bed by 90 minutes. Each participant in the group was also given customized behavior suggestions, such as avoiding caffeine before bedtime or not going to bed too full. The second group received no intervention.

For one week following the consultation, the participants kept food journals and wore wrist-motion sensors to track how long they were actually asleep. Of those who received the sleep consultation, 86% increased their sleep hours (the increase ranged between 52 minutes to nearly 90). There were no major differences apparent in the control group.

As previously mentioned, the researchers looked at the impact increased sleep had on nutritional intake, and the group who increased their sleep hours revealed a reduction in sugar intake by 10 grams, as well a reduced intake of total carbohydrates.

The results make it clear that when increased, sleep can positively impact the nutritional choices you make, and the modification truly seems feasible. “We have shown that sleep habits can be changed with relative ease in healthy adults using a personalized approach,” said lead researcher Haya Al Khatib, “Our results also suggest that increasing time in bed for an hour or so longer may lead to healthier food choices. This further strengthens the link between short sleep and poorer quality diets that has already been observed by previous studies.”

Read more about the study here


  • Alexandra Hayes

    Content Director, Product & Brand, at Thrive

    Alexandra Hayes is a Content Director, Product & Brand, at Thrive. Prior to joining Thrive, she was a middle school reading teacher in Canarsie, Brooklyn.