If you have tried fad diets and exercising to lose weight but found them to be unsustainable, there’s an easier, more enjoyable option you should consider. Scientists have found that staying in bed longer could cut one’s daily calorie intake, leading to a possible drop in dress size.
Shorter sleep, more calories
The findings were based on a small clinical trial in overweight adults —80 people between 21 and 40 years. After the trial, researchers in the US found that people who usually sleep for six and a half hours a night lost an average of 270 calories from their daily intake when they got an extra 1.2 hours of sleep.
If this routine is sustained for three years, the reduced calorie intake could result in a 12 kg weight loss, even without dietary change during the day. An improvement in sleep saw some participants consuming 500 fewer calories a day.
Although the study was not targeting weight loss, researchers noticed the fall in calories within two weeks of patients changing their sleep patterns.
Dr Esra Tasali of the University of Chicago sleep centre said:
If healthy sleep habits are maintained over longer duration, this would lead to clinically important weight loss over time. Many people are working hard to find ways to decrease their caloric intake to lose weight – well, just by sleeping more, you may be able to reduce it substantially.
Participants were not asked to restrict their diets or change their exercise routines. They all slept in their own beds and used wearable devices to track the duration of their sleep.
Previous studies revealed that people tend to consume more calories when they sleep for shorter hours. Dr Tasali explained how this new study is different from the others:
In our study we only manipulated sleep and had the participants eat whatever they wanted, with no food logging or anything else to track their nutrition by themselves.
A surprising discovery made by researchers is that a single sleep counselling session could change people’s bedtime habits enough to improve the amount of sleep they got. Dr Tasali explained:
We simply coached each individual on good sleep hygiene, and discussed their own personal sleep environments, providing tailored advice on changes they could make to improve their sleep duration.