Sleep is incredibly important. Not sleeping can lead to deficits in concentration, perception, motivation and higher mental processes. Scientifically the longest anyone has remained awake has been 265 hours, and although nobody has actually physically died directly as a result of a lack of sleep, staying awake for long periods of time is generally not advised, particularly, it would seem, if you want to lose weight.
According to recent research, there is reason to believe that a person’s more inclined to lose weight when they are getting a decent amount of sleep than people who aren’t. The researchers, however, don’t feel that we should be relying on sleep solely as a method of weight loss, but it could possibly aid a person in their weight loss efforts.
The study which was published by the CU-Boulder’s Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory and lead by Kenneth Wright, discovered changes in weight loss in people that slept more when they monitored 16 healthy, lean young adults. At the start of the study participants in the study were given a diet that allowed them to maintain their current weight.
After a few days the group was split, the one group spent five days with an allocated five hours of sleep, while the others got a generous nine hours. Both groups where provided with larger meals than at the start of the study with access to a snack options, which range from healthy fruit and yoghurt to crisps and ice cream. This carried on for five days, after which the groups where switched.
What the study showed was that those who slept for five hours a night had a tendency to burn 5% more calories than those who slept nine hours, although they took in 6% more calories. People who slept for only five hours were also far more likely to binge after their evening meal and have smaller breakfast portions. The researchers observed that the post-dinner snacks often exceeded the calorie content of the actual meal. This study does therefore not only suggest that there is a possible link between weight and sleeping patterns, but also provides further evidence that overeating, particularly during the night time can result in weight gain.
The researchers also discovered that there was a difference in the way men and women responded to unrestricted food, as men gained some weight, even with adequate sleep. Women where able to maintain their weight, although both men and women gained weight when their sleep was restricted.
Although the research doesn’t show that it’s necessarily possible to sleep yourself thin, it does indicate that when you eat can have an impact, which is why the researchers involved are planning to do further research into the topic. In the meanwhile, the benefits of a good nights sleep can’t be ignored. It’s been shown that a good night sleep can help with concentration, live longer, curb inflammation, stimulate creativity and enhance physical performance to name a few. Getting enough sleep can also help improve self control, which can be helpful when trying to get out of bad lifestyle patterns and eating habits. Therefore there is no doubt that anybody who is looking to improve their health and lose weight can find it easier if they ensure that they get enough rest. It all forms part of an overall wellbeing cycle, meaning that if you currently find that you struggle to sleep, dong more exercise and reviewing your eating habits may help and vice versa.