Sugary, Caffeinated Drink Habit Linked to Poor Sleep

Posted 01/17/2017 | By HealthCorps

A new study suggests that sleeping less than five hours nightly is associated with a higher risk of being a heavy soda drinker.

Soda gets the title of “main source of sugar in the American diet.”  Drinking soda and separately sleeping too few hours nightly are considered singular risk factors for obesity.  Separately, sugary drinks are also associated with rising rates of heart disease and diabetes.  We also know that too little sleep or poor sleep quality is associated with numerous health issues.

In the study, researchers reviewed data on 19,000 adults and found that about 13 percent of them slept for five or less hours nightly.  These individuals, classified as “poor sleepers,” also consumed 21 percent more sugar-sweetened drinks compared to adults who got more sleep (closer to eight hours nightly).  When researchers looked more closely at the particular types of sugary drinks being consumed, they noted that soda (caffeinated) was the predominant choice.

A heavy caffeinated soda habit can contribute to poor sleep patterns.  Lack of sleep is likely driving the sugar habit, so you end up in a vicious cycle.  The researchers hesitate to suggest that the study actually proves that sugar or caffeine intake causes poor sleep.  The data also showed that compared to heavier sleepers (longer sleep duration), people who slept for five hours or less were also more likely to smoke and be less active, be black, poor, unmarried and to lack a high school education.  Poor sleepers also had a higher risk of having health problems and undiagnosed sleep disorders.

The data did not show a statistically meaningful connection between drinking water, tea, coffee or one hundred percent fruit juice and getting too few hours of sleep.  Since this study was based on adult recall in terms of sleep hours, soda consumption and other beverages being consumed, there are limitations to the findings.  Still, many studies have established that when people don’t sleep enough, or when quality of sleep is poor, they have a higher risk of gaining weight and becoming obese.  Findings suggest that when the lack of sleep nudges poor eating habits, those choices may reinforce the poor sleep patterns.  The experts recommend cutting back on soda and sugary drinks (especially caffeinated drinks) to limit weight gain and to possibly improve sleep duration and quality.

Other habits that encourage better sleep include:

  • Shutting down media and tech devices at least an hour before bedtime
  • Not eating too close to bedtime
  • Not working in bed
  • Dimming the lights, taking a warm shower or bath before bedtime

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