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It’s been shown that not getting enough sleep is linked to added stress, an increased appetite, and packing on a few pounds. Meanwhile, binge drinking — four or more drinks in a few hours — has its fair share of health hazards, too. And a new study in the research journal Appetite finds a link between a lack of sleep and heavy drinking, which may motivate us to leave the bar and hit the bed insteadShort sleep duration is associated with greater alcohol consumption in adults. Chaput, J.P., McNeil, J., Despres, J.P., et al. Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada. Appetite, 2012 Jul 26. [Epub ahead of print].

The Study

Researchers studied the sleeping and drinking habits of 700 adults, ages 18 to 64 yeas old. The participants reported the amount of sleep they received each night and how many drinks they knocked back weekly. Sleep duration was categorized as short (less than six hours), average (seven to eight) or long (more than nine — lucky!). They found the short sleepers consumed significantly more alcohol than the rest of the group: 14 drinks for men and seven drinks for women per week. Binge drinking was also more prevalent among male short-sleepers, with 41 percent reporting milking more than five drinks in one go.

Can We Trust It?

While the researchers found a connection between less sleep and more alcohol, it’s unclear if big-time boozing affects quantity of sleep, or if not getting enough sleep leads to choosing the bottle instead of a cat nap. We’re also left wondering if and what other individual health issues affected the participants’ sleeping or drinking habits.

However, the large study sample and its results are eye opening. The link between less sleep and more alcohol may help motivate people to tweak their current unhealthy habits, since there clearly is a relationship between the two. So aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night, and one to two drinks a day. And while we’re at it, we should try to stick to some healthier boozing options, and try creating a routine to improve our quality of sleep!

What do you think of the study? Do you find that not getting enough sleep leads to more booze, or a night of barhopping leaves less time for sleep?