Want to lose weight? Sleep it off.
A growing body of evidence suggests that getting enough sleep is important for weight loss and should be added to the mix of diet and exercise, says an article published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
"There is robust evidence supporting the role of reduced sleep as contributing to the current obesity epidemic," write Dr. Jean-Phillippe Chaput, of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa and Dr. Angelo Tremblay of Laval University in Quebec City.
They cite previous studies that show insufficient sleep may stimulate the craving for food and may interfere with the body's appetite-control mechanisms.
The researchers found further support in a study involving overweight adults on a restricted caloric intake who were assigned to sleep either 5.5 or 8.5 hours a night for two weeks.
The group that slept less lost about half as much body fat (55% less) and felt more hungry.
In their own observations of a group of overweight or obese adults on a 17-week program supervised by a dietician, they found that "both total sleep time and sleep quality at baseline predicted loss of fat mass."
Still, it's not as simple as sleep more, lose more weight, the researchers said.
"However, an accumulating body of evidence suggests that sleeping habits should not be overlooked when prescribing a weight-reduction program to a patient with obesity. Sleep should be included as part of the lifestyle package that traditionally has focused on diet and physical activity."