Study Shows Sleeping More Can Lead to Lower Caloric Intake

You might be surprised to learn that a good night’s sleep may be the secret to being more successful in your weight loss goals. Are you intrigued to know more? Keep reading!

Getting sufficient sleep brings along plenty of health benefits, physically and mentally. Getting too much or too little sleep is unadvisable, so knowing how to strike the right balance is the key. Like almost everything in life, too much of anything – even rest – can be harmful. But what about those with unhealthy eating habits, who are overweight, and don’t get enough sleep?

As per a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, increasing the sleep duration by one hour for overweight people can help reduce their daily calorie intake. Therefore, scientists have concluded that there is a link between losing weight and sleeping more without any changes to the diet.

For the study, participants were not required to restrict their calorie intake. In fact, they were unaware that calorie intake was being measured at all. The study suggested that this one extra hour of sleep at night could help overweight people eat 270 fewer calories a day without even trying. This translates to almost nine pounds of weight loss in a year.

Those with experience carefully measuring calorie intake know that cutting back 270 calories daily is an outstanding achievement. In addition to being an excellent motivator for people on weight loss programs, this is a clinically significant achievement. Previously, no one realized that sleep was one of the factors in achieving a healthy weight, but research shows there is an increasing recognition that rest has to be now considered a vital component of metabolic health, exercise, cardiovascular health, and eating. In short, sufficient sleep is crucial for good overall health.

Good Sleep & Metabolism

Many studies have proven that sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain due to decreased metabolic function. When we deprive ourselves of sleep, it profoundly impacts our appetite regulation. It leads to a greater food intake, putting you at risk for potential weight gain over time. Therefore, scientists decided to observe the other end of the spectrum and see if increasing sleep will aid in weight loss, particularly for overweight people.

This study enlisted 80 participants who were overweight and getting less than 6.5 hours of sleep nightly. The study was conducted over four weeks, and the initial two weeks were utilized to gain information about how sleep participants got along with their calorie intake. After that, participants were divided into two groups. One group was instructed to continue their usual sleeping routine, and the other was requested to extend their sleep duration by 1.2 hours a night. This portion of the study went on for another two weeks. Every night, participants would sleep and measure the duration of shut-eye they got. They were not asked to change any other part of their lives, including their diet.

Those who got that extra hour of sleep showed a decrease in food consumption. Surprisingly, some participants consumed less than 500 calories a day, but on average, the subjects saw a 270-calorie reduction. This correlation between sleep and weight loss proves that maintaining healthy sleeping habits over time could lead to weight loss.

Sleep Deprivation = Weight Gain?

Here’s what happens when you cut down on your sleep: your body cooks up the perfect recipe for weight gain. When you’re short on sleep, you feel tired, which tempts you to skip exercising and be lazy to cook food at home. One thing leads to the other, and when this cascade happens regularly, it can inevitably lead to weight gain.

Less sleep also affects your basal metabolic rate (calories you burn at rest). Moreover, lack of sleep can trigger the release of additional cortisol (the stress hormone), which, in turn, can stimulate hunger. When we have inadequate sleep, this is how our body reacts:

  • It hampers the metabolism of carbohydrates and leads to increased blood sugar levels, which, in turn, causes higher insulin levels and increased body-fat storage.
  • Reduces leptin levels and causes an increased craving for carbohydrates.
  • Leads to insulin resistance and an increased risk of diabetes.
  • Increases the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

What Happens When The Brain Is Sleepy?

Cutting down on sleep makes your brain make bad decisions. In fact, it dulls the brain’s frontal lobe activity, which is responsible for impulse control and decision-making. To put it into perspective, it’s like being drunk – your mental clarity isn’t there to allow you to make good decisions.

Besides, when you’re overtired, the brain will start looking for something that feels good, so you might want to go for that extra slice of cake. This is because the brain has reward centers that are triggered when you are deprived of sleep, causing you to crave junk food or carbohydrates. These reward centers are in much better control when people are well-rested, so with sufficient sleep, you won’t find yourself craving that extra bar of chocolate.

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep?

When people are glued to their phones all day, it isn’t easy to switch them off and sleep when there is a constant temptation to stay online for a little longer. As hard as it is, it’s essential to follow these tips to help you get good sleep a night:

  • Shut down your mobile phone, computer, or TV about an hour before you hit the bed.
  • Your bedroom should be a place of rest, sleep, and relaxation, not work or entertainment.
  • Have a bedtime ritual like taking a warm bath, meditating, or reading a book.
  • Avoid heavy meals at night because these can cause heartburn and make it harder to fall asleep.
  • Also, stay away from tea, coffee, or chocolate by evening because caffeine can remain in your system for as long as six hours.
  • Dedicate yourself to a schedule by going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • Turn off the lights. Darkness helps the body release the sleep hormone melatonin, while light suppresses it.

Bottom Line

Remember, making healthy lifestyle choices is vital to happiness and health. If you’re struggling to lose weight, the solution may be easier than you think. Get sufficient sleep, eat healthy food, and exercise regularly, and you will find yourself set up for long-term success in your weight loss goals!