Sarah has covered news topics for digital and print publications. She has a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Nevada.
A new study suggests that sleeping an extra hour could be an effective weight-loss tactic — if you’re not getting enough sleep to begin with.
Researchers from the University of Chicago and University of Wisconsin-Madison found that study participants consumed 270 fewer calories over two weeks if they slept at least one hour more than normal. They specifically looked at adults ages 21 to 40 who slept 6.5 hours or less per day and qualified as overweight, with a body-mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9.
Participants who extended their sleep to a healthier length lost an average of 2 pounds in two weeks. Those who did not add an hour to their sleep gained 1 pound over the same two weeks, regardless of other daily activities.
All participants continued their regular diet and exercise habits, with a select group receiving sleep coaching to extend their nightly sleep to 8.5 hours. Some participants reported cutting 500 calories.
Over three years, for example, that extra sleep could lead to a weight loss of as much as 26 pounds, researchers say.
The takeaway: Getting closer to the recommended number of hours to sleep may be an effective way to reduce hunger and spur healthier eating habits. Sleep affects the brain hormones that trigger hunger, leading to calorie consumption. Obesity itself is labeled a potential cause of sleep loss, with this study being the first to address it as an effect of sleep habits.
The findings of this study also support research from 2019, where researchers found that people with sleep issues had a harder time losing weight than those who slept more than seven hours.
According to 2021 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, 35% of the population in 16 states have a BMI that meets or exceeds CDC’s definition of obese. That is up from nine states in 2018.
Developing a healthy relationship at a young age is crucial, with one study finding that the more newborns sleep, the less likely they might be to develop obesity.
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