If you want to lose weight, make sleep a priority
By now, you’ve probably already heard about the countless health perks of getting a good night’s sleep. Not only is it linked with lower stress, better productivity, and a stronger immune system, but studies link a good night’s rest with a healthier weight. The only question is, how many hours should you clock in to reap those benefits?
How sleep affects your daily diet
To find out how sleep time affects diet during the day, researchers gathered 42 adults who admitted they don’t sleep much every night. Half of the participants stuck with their normal schedule, while half were trained in sleep hygiene with the goal of helping them sleep an extra 90 minutes every night. All the volunteers wore wrist monitors to track their sleep time, plus kept food diaries and tracked their physical activity and energy levels.
After four weeks, the group that trained in good sleep habits added an average of 47 minutes between the time they fell asleep and woke up (26 minutes of which included nighttime wakefulness). This compared to the group that didn’t change its schedule, according to the results in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Plus, 86 per cent started spending more time in bed, adding an extra 55 minutes on average. (If sleep is not you’re first priority, here are a few tricks to help you master the “rested” look.)
The benefits a little extra shut-eye has to offer
That extra sleep showed some real-world benefits that could help explain why lack of shut-eye is associated with obesity.
The sleep-trained group ate an average of 176 fewer calories a day; in comparison, the control group ate only seven fewer calories every day. Best of all, those calories were cut from less healthy sources.
Those who slept more cut 10 grams of sugar from their diets every day, while the others changed their sugar intake by less than a gram. The newly better sleepers reduced their daily carbs by 22 grams, while the shorter sleepers actually ate three more grams.
Even with better sleep and dietary habits, the participants didn’t show much weight change over the course of the study.
The results are consistent with past research linking sleep with a healthy weight, like one study that found people burn more fat when getting a full night’s rest. The researchers are optimistic that a little extra shut-eye could be the boost people need when trying to shed pounds.
“Our results suggest that increasing time in bed for an hour or so longer may lead to healthier food choices,” lead study author and nutrition science researcher Haya Al Khatib, PhD, tells King’s College London.
Originally published as This Is Exactly How Much More Sleep You Need if You Want to Lose Weight on ReadersDigest.com.