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Sleep Less Lose Less Weight

Posted Oct 10 2010 7:08am

We have I think known this for a long time but it seems that a University of Chicago study, actually a fairly small study, showed that sleeping less seems to affect weight loss.

The standard advice for those wanting to lose some fat: eat less, exercise more or do some combination of the two. A small but intriguing new study suggests people might also want to make sure they’re getting enough sleep.

The study,  published in the Annals of Internal Medicine , took 10 overweight or obese middle-aged adults and essentially confined them to a hospital-like setting for four weeks so their sleep duration and food consumption could be strictly controlled. (Humans have an uncanny ability to lie about what they eat in diet studies that depend on a written food diary.)

The researchers fed each participant a diet containing about 90% of the calories he or she needed, in order to spark weight loss. But participants each cycled through two different phases of the study: In one, they had 8.5 hours reserved for sleep and in the other, just 5.5. (The average sleep length actually recorded by researchers in those phases was about 7.5 and 5.3 hours respectively.)

People lost weight about 6.6 pounds in both phases. But they lost a greater proportion of body fat in the longer-sleep phase (3.1 pounds of fat) compared to the short-sleep phase (1.3 pounds of fat). The rest of the lost weight was lean body mass, from muscle and solid organs. “Most people go on a diet to lose excess fat,” Plamen Penev, director of the study and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, tells the Health Blog. “The medical benefit of weight loss in terms of reducing the risk of chronic disease is all driven by the loss of fat.”

So why do I think that sleeping affects weight loss? Here are a few reasons

  • Bad eating decisions – Eating badly becasue you are tired and lazy is common. I do this and I am sure you do it too.
  • Bad exercise habits – Feeling tired and undersleeping will leave you with more excuses not to workout.
  • Hormonal and metabolism issues – That crazy melatonin response as well as a much lower metabolism mean that you will not lose fat and instead your body will store more if it can

I know that we are all supposed to get 8 hours sleep but some people really do need less. I find, as well as many others, that a sleep deficit is just faking yourself out. If you try to sleep 6 hours a night all week thinking that you will catch up on the weekend then you are really faking yourself out. Only you know how much sleep you really need.

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