MedPage Today: Short Sleepers Drink More Sugary Sodas

by Salynn Boyles on November 10, 2016

There appears to be a connection between getting too little sleep and drinking more caffeinated sugary drinks, but the direction of the association is not understood.

Researchers found that people who sleep 5 or fewer hours during the night also tend to drink more caffeinated sodas or energy drinks containing sugar than people who sleep more than 5 hours, according to a study appearing online in Sleep Health.

But Aric A. Prather, PhD, of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues noted that the findings suggest some connection between the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and poor sleep.

"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," Prather noted in a press statement, adding that the data suggest that improving people's sleep could potentially help them reduce their sugar intake.

The researchers noted that sugar-sweetened beverages are the primary source of added sugar in the American diet, and have been linked in numerous studies to weight gain and metabolic syndrome. Lack of sleep has also been linked to an increased risk for metabolic disease.

Thirteen percent of patients reported sleeping 5 or fewer hours per night. In fully adjusted models:

  • Respondents who slept 5 hours or less had 21% higher consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (relative difference 1.21, 95% CI 1.11-1.32);
  • When considered by beverage type, caffeinated sugary beverages accounted for this difference; and
  • No associations were seen between self-reported sleep duration and consumption of 100% juice beverages, tea, or diet drinks.

The researchers noted that the cross-sectional nature of the study precluded making any clear inferences about causality. The reliance on self-reporting of beverage consumption and sleep assessment was also cited as study limitations.

"Studies examining associations of sleep with dietary intake using objective measures of sleep are needed," Prather and colleagues wrote. "In addition, although analyses adjusted for sociodemographic and health characteristics known to show prior associations with sleep and SSB [sugar-sweetened beverages] consumption, other potential confounders (e.g., psychological stress, neighborhood socioeconomic status) unmeasured in NHANES may play a role in the sleep-SSB link. Replication and extensions of this work in large prospective cohort studies are warranted."

Despite the limitations, the researchers concluded that the findings "provide novel evidence that sleep duration may reflect a possible target for attenuating SSB consumption in adults, although there are likely bidirectional relationships between sleep and SSB consumption, particularly among caffeinated SSBs."

 
Funding for the research was provided by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The researchers reported having no relevant relationships with industry.

 

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