Scientists divulge easy way to lose weight
Sleeping more can help people to consume less calories per day and to lose weight, if those healthy sleeping habits are maintained over a prolonged period of time, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago, Illinois. The findings were published on Monday in peer-reviewed journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
The clinical research involved 80 adults aged between 21 and 40. All the participants qualified as overweight with a body mass index ranging from 25 to 29.9, while ‘normal’ body weight falls into the range between 18.5 and 24.9. All the participants also had habitual sleep of 6.5 hours per night or less. The research was conducted for a prolonged period of time, running from November 2014 to October 2020.
The participants were observed for a two-week period to establish a baseline and were then randomly separated in two groups. The control group continued with their sleeping habits without any intervention, while another group received “an individualized sleep hygiene counseling session,” aimed at prolonging their bedtime to some 8.5 hours.
No further support beyond the counseling was provided to the participants, who continued to sleep in their own beds, though they wore tracking devices to register the duration of their sleeping time.
“Most other studies on this topic in labs are short-lived, for a couple of days, and food intake is measured by how much participants consume from an offered diet,” lead researcher Dr Esra Tasali at the University of Chicago’s Sleep Center stated. “In our study we only manipulated sleep and had the participants eat whatever they wanted, with no food logging or anything else to track their nutrition by themselves.”
The sleep duration was increased for the sleep extension group by 1.2 hours per night on average, which led to a significant decrease in energy intake compared to the control group. The people from the sleep extension group consumed some 270 kilocalories on average less, which is quite significant given that recommended daily intake is 2,000 kilocalories for women and 2,500 for men.
“No significant treatment effect in total energy expenditure was found, resulting in weight reduction in the sleep extension group vs the control group,” the study reads.
While finding ways to lose weight was not the actual focus of the study, the findings show that fixing and maintaining healthier sleeping habits can have a significant impact on a person’s body weight, the researchers said.
“If healthy sleep habits are maintained over longer duration, this would lead to clinically important weight loss over time,” Tasali said. “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.”
Previous studies into the relationship between body weight and sleeping habits suggested a similar result. A 2016 study conducted by researchers at King’s College London, for instance, suggested that sleep deprivation may cause people to consume more food the following day, netting a jump in calories intake of some 385 kcal on average.