New Study Shows How Sleep & Weight Loss Go Hand-in-Hand

Woman Smiling and Stretching in Bed After a Good Night's SleepSleep and weight are known to be closely linked: although metabolism slows down when you sleep, years of research have shown that not getting enough sleep has a negative effect on appetite regulation. According to the Sleep Foundation: “a large analysis of past studies suggests that people getting less than 6 hours of sleep at night are more likely to be diagnosed as obese.” Potential reasons for this are oxidative stress, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, and/or a disruption of circadian rhythms. Plus, being awake longer presents one with more opportunities to eat.

Further research has been needed to better understand the connection between sleep and obesity. But there is promising news: A University of Chicago study published in 2022, “Effect of Sleep Extension on Objectively Assessed Energy Intake Among Adults with Overweight in Real-Life Settings,” showed how getting more sleep—an average of 8.5 hours a night—leads to a reduction in caloric intake, and ultimately to weight loss.

The study

80 adult participants who slept less than 6.5 hours a night on average and were classified as overweight according to their Body Mass Index were split into two groups. The control group stuck to their regular sleep routine. The others were asked to increase their sleep time to 8.5 hours a night. To aid in this, goal participants underwent “personalized sleep hygiene sessions.” Unlike most sleep studies, the participants slept in their own homes, in their own beds, and ate whatever they wanted. The only change was the number of hours slept per night.

The study showed how getting more sleep—an average of 8.5 hours a night—leads to a reduction in caloric intake, and ultimately to weight loss.

The increase of sleep alone, when compared to the study’s controls, reduced the participants’ overall caloric intake by an average of 270 calories per day. Running the numbers, if participants continued getting an average of 8.5 hours of sleep a night for three years they could lose around 26 pounds—simply by sleeping more and better.

Interestingly, the study wasn’t originally organized to examine weight loss, but within two weeks it became clear to the researchers that improved sleep could indeed lead to weight loss.

The study reaffirms long-standing hypotheses that reducing caloric intake is important for weight loss. But, while diet has been thought of as the main means of reducing caloric intake, this study has emphasized that getting enough sleep is also essential. Additionally, healthy sleep patterns can improve overall physical well-being and mental health, two more crucial factors when it comes to managing body weight.

How to improve sleep

The published results did not detail the “personalized sleep hygiene sessions” that study participants underwent. However, according to Dr. Tasali of UChicago Medicine, “limiting the use of electronic devices before bedtime appeared as a key intervention.”

The Sleep Foundation also offers the following research-backed advice for improving sleep:

  • Outfit your bedroom space and bed for ideal, uninterrupted sleep
  • To support your circadian rhythm, get exposure to daylight during daytime hours and limit use of artificial lights as night approaches
  • Create a bedtime routine and stick to a regular sleep schedule
  • Disconnect from devices at least 30 minutes before bed
  • Don’t eat right before bed
  • Exercise daily
  • Be moderate with, and consider timing of, caffeine and alcohol consumption
  • Learn relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing or mindfulness meditation

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If you are in the Asheville area and would like to meet with me to discuss how we can achieve your body contouring goals, I invite you to schedule a consultation by calling (828) 210-9333 or reaching out to my practice online. A consultation offers the perfect opportunity to learn what services may benefit you.

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