- A new report adds to the growing amount of evidence that sufficient sleep is a crucial ingredient to overall health and well-being.
- Prior research has found that sleep restriction causes people to eat more.
- In the new study, people who increased their sleep ate fewer calories overall.
The report adds to the growing amount of evidence that sufficient sleep is a crucial ingredient to overall health and well-being.
By increasing their sleep by about an hour a night, study participants reduced their caloric intake by an average of 270 kilocalories (kcal) a day.
Prior research has found that sleep restriction causes people to eat more and increases the chances of weight gain over time.
According to researchers, these new findings demonstrate that healthy sleep habits may lead to weight loss over time.
“Our findings suggest that getting sufficient sleep could be a game changer in our battle with [the] obesity epidemic as a society,” study researcher Dr. Estra Tasali, director of the UChicago Sleep Center at the University of Chicago Medicine, told Healthline.
Researchers recruited 80 adults, ages 21 to 40, with obesity who habitually slept fewer than 6.5 hours a night.
Participants received a customized sleep hygiene counseling session. They slept in their own beds and tracked their sleep with wearable devices.
They kept their normal routines and weren’t advised to change their diet or exercise habits.
On average, researchers advised the participants to increase their sleep by 1.2 hours to spend 8.5 hours in bed each night.
Their caloric intake and daily energy stores were measured via a urine-based test.
Compared with the control participants, those who increased their sleep reduced their caloric intake, on average, by 270 kcals a day.
According to researchers, this amount could translate to a loss of 26 pounds over 3 years.
This study is in line with prior research connecting sleep deprivation and disruptions in appetite regulation and weight gain.
“Prior research showed that sleep loss leads to increases [in] food intake in the laboratory setting and weight gain. In our study, we showed for the first time that in [a] real-word setting, objectively tracked caloric intake is decreased when sleep is extended in individuals who habitually sleep less than 6.5 hours,” Tasali said.
Tasali said there could be several potential mechanisms that can explain why more sleep leads to less caloric intake.
Sleep is known to impact appetite-regulating hormones.
“Research has shown that sleep deprivation can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol and decrease levels of the hormone leptin, which controls appetite, in the body,” said Ryan Fiorenzi, a certified sleep coach and founder of StartSleeping.org.
When the body doesn’t get the signals it’s used to receiving in its typical sleep-wake cycle, it can try to compensate in other ways and seek out high calorie foods, Fiorenzi added.
Furthermore, sleep can affect circadian rhythm factors and impact when people eat.
Restricting sleep can have serious health consequences and contribute to the development of various health conditions, including obesity.
Fiorenzi said there have been several studies that have found a direct link between short sleep duration and obesity, one of which found that people who slept fewer than 6 hours a night were more likely to have obesity than people who slept more than 7 hours a night.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that good sleep is critical to health and well-being — including weight loss. And, that poor sleep is a significant risk factor for weight gain and metabolic disorders,” Fiorenzi said.
A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine finds that getting more sleep each night can facilitate weight loss.
Participants who slept 1.2 hours more each night reduced their caloric intake, on average, by 270 kcals.
Over a period of 3 years, this could translate to a reduction in 26 pounds, researchers say.
This study adds to the growing evidence that sleep is a crucial component of overall health and well-being.