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For many of us, controlling our sweet tooth can be a never-ending battle against that bar of Dairy Milk that’s sitting in the fridge that calls out to us at night.

And, with many of us trying to focus on our goals to lose weight and improve our health, avoiding our sweet tooth is usually the first step in reaching our goals.

Well, new research has found that one of the easiest ways for us to curb our sweet tooth is by ensuring that we get our recommended 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night.

The research, which was conducted at King’s College London, invited people who regularly sleep for seven hours or less a night to take part in their sleep class. These coaching sessions helped the participants – known as ‘short sleepers’ – in ways in which they could improve their sleep health. This included advising these short sleepers to avoid using bright screens – such as phones, tablets and televisions – before bed, cutting down on how much caffeine you consume in a day and implementing a pre-bed routine, including a regular bedtime.

With the sleep coaching they received, it was found that these short sleepers would sleep around one hour more every night and this led to a change in the participant’s diets – something which the participants were not advised to do.

The diet change saw the short-sleepers reducing their daily intake of added sugar by around 10g (40 calories worth). Of course, this may not seem like a very large number of calories or sugar, however, over time these calories add up - to around a 1lb of weight loss every 3 months. Again, this may not seem like much, but if you’re a normal weight then this reduction in calories can help you keep feeling trim. Plus, the 280 calories saved a week equates to the calories that you might burn doing some gentle exercise – saving you a trip to the gym.

Of course, this study alone doesn’t prove that sleep affects our weight, however, when you link it to other studies such as the 2013 study at the University of Colorado, which found that just five days of a shortened sleep cycle could have us put on as much as 2lbs, the evidence between lack of sleep and weight gain becomes more damning.

This means that, true we need a good diet and healthy exercise regime, but when it comes to improving our waist line we should also ensure we get the best possible sleep we can every night by improving our sleep health.

Just like the study by the King’s College in London who coached their participants to sleep better, you can improve both the amount and quality of your sleep. As well as the suggestions to avoid caffeine, bright screens and set yourself a bed time. Your sleep quality can also be improved by replacing your mattress, gentle exercise (such as yoga) before bed, taking a hot shower or bath an hour before bed and avoiding stresses such as work emails a few hours before bed.

Not only will this improved sleep help dampen your sweet tooth, but a better night slight’s sleep also helps curb health issues and improve mental functionality. 

Image courtesy of Cadbury