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Is reaching your weight loss goals becoming difficult because you're not being able to resist sugary treats and unhealthy snacking? You should probably then just sleep a little extra.

A recent study has found that an extra 20 minutes of sleep could help people in cutting down the consumption of unhealthy food and sugar by almost 10g.

Researchers at King's College London conducted the study by recruiting 42 healthy people of normal weight who were a little sleep deprived -- getting less than seven hours of sleep a night.

Half of the study participants were then helped to achieve longer hours of sleep than they usually get by asking them to follow four personalised tips such as to avoid caffeine, not to go to bed hungry or too full and by establishing a relaxing daily routine.

The study participants followed the sleep consultation, aiming to extend their time in bed by 1.5 hours per day. The sleeping pattern of another group was not disturbed.

The results showed that 86 percent of the group who received sleep advice managed to increase their time in bed by an average of 55. There were no significant differences shown in the other group.

Lead researcher Haya Al-Khatib from the Department of Nutritional Sciences said: "Sleep duration and quality is an area of increasing public health concern and has been linked as a risk factor for various conditions. We have shown that sleep habits can be changed with relative ease in healthy adults using a personalised approach."

When the process was continued for a month, the researchers saw that the participants had cut down their sugar intake by an average of 9.6 grams a day. They also noticed that the participants who slept better, they reduced their intake of carbohydrates as well.

Al-Khatib said: "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."

She added: "We hope to investigate this finding further with longer-term studies examining nutrient intake and continued adherence to sleep extension behaviours in more detail, especially in populations at risk of obesity or cardiovascular disease."

Details of the study were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.