Getting adequate sleep and weight loss are related. Want to lose weight from sleeping? Try extending your sleep time so you are not sleep deprived.

Outcome of Study on Sleep and Weight Loss

Here are the surprising results of a recent study on the relationship between sleep and weight loss:

• A randomized trial that asked young, overweight adults who typically slept less than six and a half hours to try to sleep about eight and a half hours a night for two weeks.

• At the end of that short amount of time, many of those who did extend their sleep to a healthier length decreased their calorie intake by an average of 270 calories a day, according to the study published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

• Some of the study participants cut their intake by 500 calories each day, the study found.


Researchers Comments on Sleep and Weight Loss Study


• “This is almost like a game changer for weight loss or weight maintenance,” said study author Dr. Esra Tasali, an associate professor of medicine who directs the Sleep Research Center at the University of Chicago.

• The researchers projected their findings into the future. They found that eating 270 fewer calories a day would translate to a loss of 26 pounds over three years, all by doing nothing more than getting additional sleep.”

• A small intervention you can do to yourself to increase or preserve your sleep duration so you are not sleep deprived can have a significant impact on healthy weight,” Tasali said.

• One of the strengths of the study was the fact that it happened in a real-world setting, not a sleep lab, and used an objective urine test to measure calories instead of relying on people’s recall of what they ate.

• “This is a very well-done study answering an important question,” said Dr. Bhanuprakash Kolla, a sleep psychiatrist and neurologist in the Center for Sleep Medicine and the Division of Addiction Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He was not involved in the study.

• “They clearly showed that as you increase the amount of sleep, energy intake reduced and this in turn led to modest reductions in weight,” Kolla said. “It is likely that if this were extended, there could be more significant changes in weight.”

Sleep and Hunger are Related

Just how does sleeping longer help you lose weight? One reason is the impact lack of sleep has on two key hormones that control hunger and satiety: ghrelin and leptin.
Ghrelin stimulates hunger and has been shown to increase with sleep deprivation. Its partner, leptin, tells us when we are full.

“Leptin has been shown to decrease with sleep restriction. Therefore, when we are sleep deprived, we have less of this hormone and therefore less of a brake on our appetite,” Kolla said.

And it’s not just people who are overweight who find themselves craving carbs and adding pounds when they are sleep deprived, said Kristen Knutson, an associate professor of sleep and preventive medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study.

“Studies that observed increased appetite after sleep loss were in people who were not overweight. Getting sufficient sleep has health benefits for everyone regardless of body weight,” Knutson said.
Another way poor sleep impacts our eating choices can be found in the brain’s reward centers, the spot that gives us pleasurable feelings we want to repeat.
“The reward centers in the brain get more activated when you are sleep deprived, which increases your craving for carbohydrates or junk food or a higher overall food intake,” Tasali said.

Then there’s the problem of insulin resistance, which increases with sleep deprivation and leads to weight gain.

“Several laboratory studies have shown that if you were to do a sugar tolerance test in the morning to sleep-deprived individual versus well-rested individual, you would see a pre-diabetic, insulin-resistant state in the morning,” Tasali said.

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