An extra hour of sleep per night may help overweight people lose half a stone a year, a study suggests.
Researchers from the University of Chicago tracked sleep duration and calorie intake in 80 overweight people.
Volunteers who were able to get their eyes closed consumed an average of 270 fewer calories per day, the results showed.
Experts claimed that this would result in people losing the equivalent of 8-9 pounds (4 kg) per year, if the effect persisted.
In light of their findings, the scientists called for sleep counseling to be added to obesity prevention and weight loss programs. They said limiting screen time before bed was a key factor for those able to get more sleep.
Experts believe that the current obesity epidemic — with half of Britons and Americans overweight — is largely caused by an increase in calorie intake, rather than a lack of exercise.
Previous studies have shown that insufficient sleep affects appetite regulation and increases the risk of weight gain.
Lead author Dr Esra Tasali said: ‘Maintaining healthy sleep habits for an extended period of time would lead to clinically important weight loss in the long run.
“A lot of people work hard to find ways to cut their calorie intake to lose weight — well, just by getting more sleep, you might be able to cut it down significantly.”
The team recruited 80 overweight people ages 21 to 40 who slept less than six and a half hours a night. Sleep patterns were tracked via a smart watch, while their calorie intake was tracked by urine samples. Pictured: stock woman sleeping
The graphs from the University of Chicago show the change in caloric intake and sleep duration in each study participant. Each yellow bar represents a participant in the control group, while each gray bar represents a person in the group who had a sleep counseling session. It shows that the latter group increased their sleep by 1.2 hours per night and reduced their energy expenditure by an average of 270 calories, compared to the control group.
The graphs from researchers at the University of Chicago show the amount of sleep the control group (top graph) had each night compared to the average number of hours of sleep among the group that received a sleep counseling session (bottom line) over the 28-day study. Sleep was followed by an actigraphy – a watch that measures sleep. Both groups slept for about six hours a night during, but the participants who received the counseling session slept an average of 1.2 hours a night.
The team recruited 80 overweight people ages 21 to 40 who slept less than six and a half hours a night.
Sleep patterns were tracked via a smart watch, while their calorie intake was tracked by urine samples.
Two weeks after the study, half of the group received a sleep counseling session that aimed to help them get 8.5 hours of closed eyes — which is closer to the recommended level.
The control group continued their usual sleep patterns.
HOW MUCH SLEEP SHOULD I GET?
Most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep each night.
By going to bed and waking up at the same time every night, the brain and internal body clock are programmed to get used to a regular routine.
Few people manage to stick to strict bedtime patterns.
To make it easier to fall asleep, the NHS recommends relaxing, for example by taking a bath, reading and avoiding electronic devices.
The health department also recommends keeping the bedroom sleep-friendly by removing TVs and gadgets from the room and keeping it dark and tidy.
For people who have trouble sleeping, the NHS says keeping a sleep diary can uncover lifestyle habits or activities that contribute to sleepiness.
Counseling included educating participants about good sleep hygiene — steps that can be taken to get a good night’s sleep, such as dimming the lights, not looking at electronics for 30 minutes before bed, and reading.
The session also discussed the volunteers’ sleep environments and offered advice on changes they could make.
Both groups were then followed for another two weeks, and the results were then published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
dr. Tasali said: ‘Most other studies on this topic in labs are short-lived, lasting a few days, and food intake is measured by how much participants consume from a diet offered.
‘In our study, we only manipulated sleep and let the participants eat what they wanted, without food logging or anything else to keep track of their diet.’
Volunteers who received counseling received an average of 1.2 hours extra sleep per night compared to the control group.
And they consumed 270 fewer calories than the other group, while some ate 500 fewer.
The group that slept more lost an average of 1 pound over the course of two weeks. In comparison, the control group came in at 0.9 pounds.
This would translate to a loss of 12 kg (26 lbs) over three years in those who slept more if the effect persisted, the researchers said.
The team didn’t assess the factors that influence sleep, but said limiting the use of electronic devices before bed was key.
They also didn’t investigate why those who slept more ate less, but hope to look into this in future studies.
However, previous studies have shown that lack of sleep can alter levels of appetite-regulating hormones.
Studies also suggest that sleep deprivation causes changes in the part of the brain associated with reward seeking, meaning that people are more likely to seek food and feel rewarded when tired, which promotes overeating.
dr. Tasali said: ‘More recently, the question everyone has been asking has been, ‘If this is what happens with sleep loss, can we extend sleep and reverse some of these ill effects?’
‘We saw that after just one sleep counseling session, participants were able to change their bed habits enough to extend sleep time.’
She added: ‘In our previous work, we understood that sleep is important for regulating appetite.
“Now we’ve shown that in real life, without making other lifestyle changes, you can sleep longer and eat fewer calories. This can really help people trying to lose weight.”
The NHS recommends that men should eat about 2,500 calories and women about 2,000 to maintain a healthy weight.
Source: | This article is originally from Dailymail.co.uk
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