Engineering 101

Can More Sleep Help You Lose Weight?

Losing weight is hard. And there are so many diets out there that all claim to be backed by science. Can getting more sleep help you lose weight?

A new study by the University of Chicago Medicine claims that, yes, increasing your sleep time can reduce your overall caloric intake throughout the day.

Most experts agree that increased caloric intake is more to blame for the current obesity epidemic than a lack of exercise. Tasali and colleagues worked with 80 adults to improve their sleep hygiene, resulting in longer sleep durations. Those that saw increased time in bed also ate an average of 270 fewer calories per day over the control group. A 270 calorie a day deficit over a three-year period equates to 26 pounds of weight loss.

The study, unlike similar studies, allowed participants to sleep in their own beds and continue with their everyday lives rather than watching and tracking them in laboratory conditions.

Most participants changed their sleep habits after one personal counseling session on sleep hygiene. Scientists did not advise subjects to make any other lifestyle changes, but most had a large decrease in calories imbibed, with some eating as much as 500 fewer calories per day.

“This was not a weight-loss study,” said Tasali. “But even within just two weeks, we have quantified evidence showing a decrease in caloric intake and a negative energy balance — caloric intake is less than calories burned. If healthy sleep habits are maintained over longer duration, this would lead to clinically important weight loss over time. Many people are working hard to find ways to decrease their caloric intake to lose weight — well, just by sleeping more, you may be able to reduce it substantially.”

The study, “Effect of Sleep Extension on Objectively Assessed Energy Intake Among Adults with Overweight in Real-Life Settings,” was published February 7th in JAMA Internal Medicine.

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