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Want to lose weight? Get more sleep, says a recent study

By Brooke Villanueva Published Mar 02, 2022 5:12 pm

New research has found that getting good sleep could help you shed some pounds. 

According to a study by the University of Chicago, an improvement in the quality and duration of your sleep could help “reduce weight and be a viable intervention for obesity prevention and weight loss programs.”

The researchers gathered 80 overweight adults who slept for less than 6.5 hours a night for a clinical trial. “Those randomized to a 2-week sleep extension intervention significantly reduced their daily energy intake by approximately 270 kcal compared with the control group,” they stated in the paper. Based on its dynamic prediction model, such decreased intake could lead to “an approximately 12-kg weight loss over 3 years if the effects were sustained over a long term.”

“If sleep is extended over longer periods, weight loss in the form of fat mass would likely increase over time,” the authors explained. “A few observations suggest that sleeping 7 to 8 hours per night is associated with greater success in weight loss interventions.” 

Now, the question is, how does it work? “Evidence from laboratory sleep restriction studies suggests that increased hunger, alterations in appetite-regulating hormones, and changes in brain regions related to reward-seeking behavior are potential mechanisms that promote overeating after sleep restriction,” the researchers wrote.

In an interview on Chicago Tonight, Dr. Esra Tasali—the director of UChicago Sleep Center who co-authored the study—explained it in simpler terms: “It’s not just about spending fewer calories because you spend more time in bed and have less time to eat. But when you wake up rested, your body systems are better regulated, and your appetite hormones and your brain tells you to eat less, and you feel less hungry.”

The study, titled Effect of Sleep Extension on Objectively Assessed Energy Intake Among Adults With Overweight in Real-life Settings, was published in JAMA Internal Medicine in February.