Food and Behaviour Research

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Sleep extension is a feasible lifestyle intervention in free-living adults who are habitually short sleepers: a potential strategy for decreasing intake of free sugars? A randomized controlled pilot study

Al Khatib HK, Hall WL, Creedon A, Ooi E, Masri T, McGowan L, Harding SV, Darzi J, Pot GK (2018) Am J Clin Nutr 107(1) 43-53. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqx030. 

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Evidence suggests that short sleep duration may be a newly identified modifiable risk factor for obesity, yet there is a paucity of studies to investigate this.


We assessed the feasibility of a personalized sleep extension protocol in adults aged 18–64 y who are habitually short sleepers (5 to


Forty-two normal-weight healthy participants who were habitually short sleepers completed this free-living, 4-wk, parallel-design randomized controlled trial. The sleep extension group (n = 21) received a behavioral consultation session targeting sleep hygiene. The control group (n = 21) maintained habitual short sleep.


Rates of participation, attrition, and compliance were 100%, 6.5%, and 85.7%, respectively. The sleep extension group significantly increased time in bed [0:55 hours:minutes (h:mm); 95% CI: 0:37, 1:12 h:mm], sleep period (0:47 h:mm; 95% CI: 0:29, 1:05 h:mm), and sleep duration (0:21 h:mm; 95% CI: 0:06, 0:36 h:mm) compared with the control group. Sleep extension led to reduced intake of free sugars (–9.6 g; 95% CI: –16.0, –3.1 g) compared with control (0.7 g; 95% CI: –5.7, 7.2 g) (P = 0.042). A sensitivity analysis in plausible reporters showed that the sleep extension group reduced intakes of fat (percentage), carbohydrates (grams), and free sugars (grams) in comparison to the control group. There were no significant differences between groups in markers of energy balance or cardiometabolic health.


We showed the feasibility of extending sleep in adult short sleepers. Sleep extension led to reduced free sugar intakes and may be a viable strategy to facilitate limiting excessive consumption of free sugars in an obesity-promoting environment.


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