Get More Sleep, Lose More Weight
This is part of our “In Medical News” series where Dr. Sara Laudani shares a study or article in recent news and offers some analysis and tips about the news, to help patients stay informed.
A randomized study has provided evidence that increased sleep may help with weight loss. Prior research had consistently shown that lack of sleep leads to consuming more calories, though the mechanism behind this relationship is not completely clear. However, this new study explored whether increasing sleep hours might be able to decrease calorie intake and did so in “real world” setting versus a sleep lab.
The research participants were all overweight and getting less than 6.5 hours of sleep a night. They were randomly assigned to receive personalized sleep recommendations to help boost the time spent sleeping or a control group who just participated in routine study visits.
They found that the group randomized to sleep longer had a significant decrease in total energy intake (calories consumed) during the study period, around 150 fewer calories per day. They had no difference in total energy expenditure (calories burned). Since calories in went down and calories out stayed the same, the intervention group lost weight — about a pound over two weeks.
The sleep recommendations the participants in the first group received included: decreasing ambient light, creating a bedtime routine, limiting phone and TV use in bed, decreasing caffeine intake, and increasing exercise. Additionally, each participant was given a goal bedtime and wake-time schedule.
150 calories is not a drastic amount, but small changes add up when it comes to health and weight loss. Just sleeping more could help people lose a few pounds per year based on the results seen here. And of course, sleep is good for more than just weight loss. Participants in the group who received the sleep recommendations also reported having significantly more energy during the day, were more alert, and had a better mood.
- Getting more sleep is healthy. Studies have indicated a variety of health benefits to getting sufficient sleep and this study provides evidence it may also support healthy weight. Certainly, there is also quite a bit of evidence on the flip side, showing lack of sleep can be detrimental to your health.
- Getting more sleep is possible! With some simple recommendations and a goal, these participants were able to change their sleep patterns for the better. Implement the recommendations listed. Create a better sleeping environment, make a plan and set a goal for sleeping more.
- We are simply animals, and our circadian rhythms are deeply connected with nature’s cycles; one of them is the alternating of sunlight and darkness, day and night. Our melatonin and cortisol (as well as other adrenal steroidal hormones) are strictly linked to darkness and light exposure: we are meant to shut down all our activities (including mental work, metabolism, feeding and so on) with darkness because it is time to rest. Sunlight brings the resuming of activities, at any level.
- Adequate sleep allows for good support of the immune system cells, whose job is killing pathogens and protecting us. Insufficient sleep hours or losing sleep efficiency can change the balance in the polarization of the immune system, pushing it toward hyper-reactivity and inflammation, increasing infection risks.
- During deep sleep we produce repairing hormones, which carry out all the repairing interventions required in our body and systems. Think of this like a team of janitors and handymen for maintenance who keep things repaired and all equipment in good condition. They need their time to work, and if we chronically decrease their working hours we’ll end up with inefficient and malfunctioning systems, setting up the foundations for and contributing to the development of chronic diseases.
- And it turns out, that as an extra benefit, on top of all these health benefits, you get to lose weight!
Dr. Sara Laudani offers consultations in internal medicine and functional and nutritional medicine online. Click here to schedule an appointment with her and find out how her holistic approach and protocols can help you resolve your health issues.