February 2, 2011
Sleep your fat away!
I showed you last week how watching TV or working on your computer late at night can make you fat. The artificial light can really throw off your dietary clock, encouraging you to eat at the wrong time. Now there's evidence that simply getting more sleep can help you lose weight.
Many people think they'll lose more weight by staying awake to burn calories. But a new NIH-funded study tells us something very different. A University of Chicago study followed a small group of 10 obese adults. Their average age was 41. The researchers gave each of the participants a moderate caloric-restriction diet. Then they divided the participants into two groups and had them sleep for either 8.5 hours or 5.5 hours per day for 14 days.
The results are telling. Sleep curtailment cut the proportion of weight lost as fat by 55%. Sleep deprivation increased the loss of muscle mass as well - by 60%. Additionally, less sleep shifted metabolic adaptation to increased hunger and it burned less fat.
So staying up and burning the midnight oil might not burn fat after all. It might cost you lean body mass, which is not healthy at all. Aim for at least eight hours sleep per night. You can sleep your way to leanness.
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Ref: Ann Intern Med, October 5, 2010, 153:I-28.