Science is helping us in most parts of our lives, weight loss and weight management included. If you’re doing your best to eat cleanly and get plenty of exercise to lose weight, there might be one more thing to pay attention to: your sleep schedule. According to research, not enough sleep can reduce the benefits of your diet. In the efforts to fight obesity and improve the health of every human, understanding how weight loss really happens is the key, and we finally have a new part of that key.
Adults most often don’t get enough sleep during the night. From necessary 7 hours, many often get less than 6 hours of sleep per night. According to scientists, lack of sleep causes metabolic disorders, weight gain and even obesity (besides all the psychological issues like mood swings and reduced focus). So how does sleep affect our weight loss progress and how can we improve our results through more sleep?
Insufficient sleep, diet, and obesity study
The first study on sleep and obesity tested 10 healthy individuals with obesity problems, aged 35 to 49. Their mass index ranged from 25—overweight to 32—obese. The study provided each participant with a balanced diet suitable to their needs, with a calorie restriction of 10%. There was no exercise or any other way to lose weight prescribed by the study.
The study involved the testing of every participant: the first test came after 14 days in the laboratory with 8.5 hours of sleep, and the second test came after 14 days of 5.5 hours of sleep. All the hours the participants spent awake went by in home work, office work or leisure. During the first 14 days, participants spent 8.5 hours a day in bed, on average sleeping 7 hours and 25 minutes. During the second 14 days, participants spent 5.5 hours in bed every night and slept 5 hours and 14 minutes on average (i.e. more than two hours less than the first time). The caloric intake was the same all through the experiment with around 1,450 calories per day.
The results of the study were amazing. On average, participants lost 6.6 pounds of weight during each 14-day phase, but where that weight came from was vastly different. The first 14 days had subjects lose 3.1 pounds of fat and 3.3 pounds of other body mass (mostly protein). On the other hand, the second part of the trial had subjects lose 6.6 pounds as well, but this time, they lost 1.3 pounds of fat and 5.3 pounds of other body mass.
The conclusion is that if you want to lose fat, it’s necessary to watch your sleep and get plenty of it. Reducing your sleep, which is pretty common today, is detrimental to losing fat by restricting calories. People who struggle with sleep might consider introducing a better sleep schedule and habits with appropriate sleep aid supplements to help them get more beneficial sleep. Habit changes together with supplementation can do miracles for your fat loss.
In the study we just mentioned, lack of sleep causes people to lose 55% less fat. But that’s not all: Lack of sleep also caused the subjects to feel hungrier. Restricting sleep produces more ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger and reduces how much energy you spend. Ghrelin levels were stable with more sleep and more time spent in bed, but they rose significantly when sleeping less. Higher levels of this hunger hormone reduce energy expenditure, boost hunger, increase food intake, promote fat retention and increase hepatic glucose production.
Scientists presume that the controlled environment of the experiment has helped hide some of the sleep deprivation effects. For instance, subjects ate a controlled diet even after they started experiencing increased hunger due to lack of sleep. Were they at home, their fat loss would probably be even lower.
Chicago and University of Wisconsin–Madison study
There are more studies that help people see the benefits of sleep to fat loss and overall weight loss. This study by UChicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison included participants who slept in their own beds and tracked sleep through devices on their bodies. Otherwise, they didn’t have any other restrictions when it came to calories or exercise. To track caloric intake and energy expenditure, scientists used so-called “doubly labeled water”.
Participants were ordered to increase their sleep duration to 8.5 hours a night. Those who did so, managed to reduce their caloric intake by 270 calories per day, which equals around 12 kg or 26 pounds over three years. This is a very controlled and healthy way to reduce body weight and maintain it over time.
The most beneficial and surprising effect of the study is its simplicity. According to researchers, all it took was one sleep counseling session for participants to improve their bedtime habits and boost their sleep duration. After that, participants didn’t have to learn any new things or stick to any particular diet or workout regimen. When their sleep hygiene and environment improved, subjects managed to stick to their sleep patterns without any issues.
Initially, participants were worried that extra sleep might prevent them from getting everything done throughout the day. However, with more sleep came more energy and better focus, so they were more than able to keep up with work, family time and socializing. Better sleep made them more productive, thus allowing them to go all through the day without feeling tired and sluggish. Even without positive fat loss results, the study showed plenty of the beneficial sides of sleep.
All people who want to lose weight, especially fat, should pay attention to this part. For the first time, we have found a link between sleep and dietary interventions and concluded that the amount of sleep has a big effect on weight loss. If you’re on a diet already, the best way to get over your plateau is to reexamine your sleep patterns and improve your sleep hygiene. On the other hand, cutting sleep can completely nullify your progress and cause all your hard work to go unnoticed, making you unmotivated and ready to give up on your weight loss. Lower Cholesterol Levels by Healthy Eating Habits