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October 4th, 2010
05:01 PM ET

Sleep more, lose weight, says study

Are you trying your best to eat right and exercise, but still not losing weight? One study suggests that lack of sleep could throw off a diet.

Research from the University of Chicago showed that dieters who slept for 8.5 hours lost 55 percent more body fat than dieters who slept 5.5 hours.

"Lack of sufficient sleep may compromise the efficacy of typical dietary interventions for weight loss and related metabolic risk reduction,” the study authors concluded in an article released Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a journal of the American College of Physicians.

Not having enough sleep could affect a hormone called ghrelin, known to affect appetite and weight. An increase in this hormone level has been shown to make people hungrier and cause higher fat retention.

The dieters who slept less reported feeling hungrier throughout the course of the study.

The study had a small sample size – 10 sedentary nonsmokers, between the ages of 35 to 49 years with a body mass index considered overweight to obese (BMI 25-32), who stayed in what’s considered a closed study environment for two weeks.

Calculate your BMI here.

They ate the same diet, consumed multivitamins and performed the same type of work or leisure activities. Six of them were assigned to 8.5 hours of sleep, and four slept 5.5 hours. Those who slept more lost more fat and maintained fat-free body mass.

"Together, these results suggest that the loss of sleep at times of limited food intake amplifies the pattern of ghrelin-associated changes in human hunger, glucose and fat utilization, and energy metabolism," the study authors wrote.


soundoff (155 Responses)
  1. Andy

    I completely agree. I have done a self study for the past three years. Any time I get a good nights rest I loose more weight regardless of the time I'm in bed.

    October 5, 2010 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Kat

    Kind of obvious, right? If you sleep more, there are fewer hours in the day to consume food. I have a friend who would take short naps when she felt hungry during the day and she actually lost a lot of weight in just a couple months. Haha, most of us can't take naps at work though.

    October 5, 2010 at 17:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Gabe

    For me it's the opposite, if I stay up later, it means I'm doing something and I'm not thinking of food. I end up burning all my energy without eating and my pounds drop like flies. It's quite ridiculous (I've been trying to gain muscle weight). Usually if I decide to fight through the feeling of my stomach eating itself up (since I get lazy to have to make food again, or having to brush my teeth again), I end up experiencing a restless night and would probably end up waking up early to eat some food. Then, I go through the rest of the day really tired and malnourished, hence adding more to weight loss.

    October 5, 2010 at 17:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Lhc

    It goes like this: If you are asleep, you are not eating.

    October 5, 2010 at 17:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Mike

    BMI is a bunch of bs, I'm 6'1, 200 lbs and the bmi is telling me I am overweight, I am in the Army and no where near fat, hell my body fat percentage is 9%, but according to the scales, im a chunk ass.. hah

    October 5, 2010 at 17:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Stan Chraminski

    BMI is an average without regard to build. If you are well muscled with low body fat, you are also probably fit and BMI is not a great indicator. It's the 5'3" 200 pounders who say you can be fat and fit that usually complain about BMI. Of course, if you were to gain another 50 pounds, it would probably not be muscle nor make you fitter. Generally waist size is a good proxy as most of what we gain in the middle is not muscle. I'll bet your waist size has not changed. Congrats.

    October 5, 2010 at 18:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. anthony

    10 people? This isn't a study. This is a joke. Whatever happened to new in this country?

    October 5, 2010 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. fajita

    only 10 people in this study? some "study." how is this NEWS? this is a joke.

    October 5, 2010 at 18:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Me

    I have found quite the opposite to be true lately. I've had round the clock morning sickness for four weeks now and have only been getting about half what I'd normally eat. I am also sleeping much more than usual–maybe 10-12 hours a night. Apparently sleeping so much is helping me conserve energy, because I haven't lost a pound despite not being able to eat much. In my case, this is good!

    October 5, 2010 at 19:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jenovaunion

    I've lost 48 pounds in 3 months. That's no lie. No gimmicks or products, and no BS. How did I do it? The way you're supposed to. Diet and exercise. I don't understand why people look to ridiculous drugs/diets/products to accomplish their weight loss goals. I'll even share my big secret with all of you so you can do it too. First, I probably sleep less than 6 hours a night so this 8.5 hours is a bunch of garbage. I eat twice a day. First meal: 7" turkey sub on WHEAT BREAD with JUST LETTUCE. I eat that at 1pm. The second meal at appx. 6pm: Fresh salad with grilled chicken. NO DRESSING! I use a little bit of cheese, bacon bits, onions, a good helping of romaine lettuce, and maybe 4 croutons at max. NO DRESSING! Also, I drink absolutely nothing but WATER. No soda, no coffee, no milk, no juice, no alcohol. Then, (and this is the most important thing), I EXERCISE! I walk appx 3.5 to 7 miles 5 days a week, either outside or at the gym on a treadmill. Once again folks, 48 pounds lost in 3 months. I feel better and I look better. Remember, businesses lie to you to sell products. If you're not controlling what you eat, exhibiting willpower, and exercising, you're not going to lose the weight. You don't need drugs. You don't need "The Atkins Diet". All you need is a good pair of walking shoes and some self control. Self control is difficult, but you're in control of yourself. It's not a comfortable process, but being lazy and comfortable is what made me and you both fat in the first place. Walking can become painful in the beginning but get a good pair of fit walking shoes/boots and the pain and blisters go away. Take control of yourselves. Life is too short to spend it being fat, depressed, and miserable.

    October 5, 2010 at 19:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Kelcy, Colorado

    Nice thought unless you have insomnia and the sleep drugs they give you clear your system in five hours.

    October 5, 2010 at 19:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. kelly

    well you cant eat while you are sleeping so.....

    October 5, 2010 at 19:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Totinsky

    A sample size of 10 ppl??? Which were non smokers ages from 35 to 49 yrs??? hahaha....Well, I appreciate the effort, thanks for the info.... let see if we can increase the sample size and throw there more variety. =)

    October 5, 2010 at 19:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. sheppard

    Well I think we should all listen to "MattEsq" because he obviously knows the details of everyone's life and can tell us all what to do . Of course I own my own home and have 3 kids – those things that MattEsq says are impossible in today's world but he still knows more than the rest of us – Oh and you folks out there that are working two jobs to support your families – that is only a choice you are making, never a necessity – just ask MattEsq, he'll tell you that you don't really have to do that.....

    October 5, 2010 at 19:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. trumod

    Sleep to lose weight. I knew bears were on to something.

    October 5, 2010 at 20:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Kani

    I could have proved this study right when I was 2 years old.

    Obviously you lose weight if you sleep more... you can't eat while you sleep!

    October 5, 2010 at 20:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. john

    No wonder all my friends are fat as a house and I'm fit. I love sleeping ten hours a day now time for a nap.

    October 5, 2010 at 21:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. sarah

    sample size, n=10? and study duration = 2 weeks? pretty weak.

    October 5, 2010 at 21:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. bobaloo

    Whats Rev long eating?

    October 5, 2010 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Robert

    Hehe, If that were the case, I would be in the best shape in the world!

    October 6, 2010 at 01:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Ashbear

    @Howard, I've been reading a lot of your responses, in between other comments. You indeed sir, are a winner, and I fully believe everything you say. It is a choice.

    I'm really young, age 21, and I just started working my first full-time job after graduating college. While yes, it's great to be working, (and I understand I might be 'luckier' in this respect and this particular situation doesn't necessarily qualify as a hardship in comparison to others, but I'm using it as an example).

    I have to drive almost 2 hours every day (not including the drive home) to get to work. Commuting to DC sucks! But I'm not paying rent, since I live with my parents out in Manassas.

    So I endured being angry and upset for weeks, upset at how I was wasting my time in traffic, the commute was really hard getting used to sitting in that car for hours... until I broke down crying in front of my dad. He shook his head (he'd been making this commute for years), and said to me, "Ashley, you CHOOSE to be angry and upset about it."

    It's true, in every respect, these are the decisions I made. It was my choice to stay living out here, and commute. I chose not to take public transportation because it's much more expensive. I chose not to live in an apartment in DC because, again, less expensive. I must endure the stress of the commute. But again, stressing about the choice I made, that in itself is another choice I make.

    Now, I drive to work, listen to morning radio stations and laugh and sing on the way to work.

    October 6, 2010 at 10:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Kat

    10 people is SUCH a small sample size, I feel it can't really be generalized to the total population. What's their p-value?

    October 6, 2010 at 13:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Kim

    Hey! If anyone is interested -

    I'm casting a documentary series for people in relationships would want to lose weight with their significant other.
    You would be filmed for 3-4 months, and would receive free personal training, nutritional guidance, etc.

    If anyone is interested, please email me at castingkimberly@gmail.com

    October 6, 2010 at 19:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Realla

    I didn't start to lose weight (and maintain it) until I left school/graduated college. Now I get 7-8 hrs of sleep a night, and my weight is under control. I sleep less, and gain more- even when my eating and exercise habits go completely unchanged (I have good self control, so I don't make that assertion lightly). Sleep has been the holy grail for me.

    October 7, 2010 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Howard

    @Ashley (Ashbear) – GOOD FOR YOU! You get it. It IS a switch in your mind you can turn on and off. Dad gave you perfect advice. You can't change the world but you can change how you react to it. Said the same exact thing to my kids.

    October 8, 2010 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Jon

    I know this isn't positive, but when I see someone working 2 jobs and going to school part-time it doesn't exactly encourage me to do that myself. It's like a fat person being encouraged to lose weight by an ultra-athletic sports fan that runs the marathon every week. I want to work to live, not live to work. I want to enjoy my life. I don't want to be a slave or a tool. I'm not happy with myself when I don't contribute, but I can't be encouraged to contribute by people who work 3 jobs and have a PHD coming.

    I'm just trying to remind people that if you want others to adopt a healthy lifestyle then please understand that not everyone makes good choices or is in perfect mental shape or is driven by ambition to conquer the world. This isn't a perfect world. In fact, it's quite ugly and depressing when you dig deep into its reality. One thing I know is is that it will never be perfect and that people themselves will always find fault with some person or group of persons.

    I'm not encourage people to fail, but just saying that being healthy and doing hte right things in life is HARD and not everyone can do it or do it well. That's the reality. There will always be bad choices and bad people, we can choose to ***** and moan about them or we can choose to build a better world in which people can live and learn.

    October 8, 2010 at 21:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. FancyScrubs

    Sounds easy in theory but in real world today not so easy. Many things need to change to change this one.

    October 9, 2010 at 06:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. chi-town

    I'd post a lengthy, well thought out comment (and stick around to defend it) but, alas, it's late and I have better things to do–like get some sleep.

    October 10, 2010 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. kavix

    its is sure a good thing to sleep good and it will effect everything your doing thats for sure.
    but you still have to exercise to get a good shape cause most people talk about losing weight but just want a better figure and in order to achieve that you will have to exercise

    a good way to exercise is walking or running

    Sole F63 Treadmill

    October 14, 2010 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. kavix

    it is definitely important to get more sleep but most people who talk about lose weight mean that they want to have a good figure and in order to receive that you will have to exercise

    exercise by walking or running to get in a good shape

    Sole F63 Treadmill

    October 14, 2010 at 12:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kavix

      sorry for the dubble post i tought it didn't work

      October 14, 2010 at 12:15 | Report abuse |
  31. R

    What is missing in this study is any discussion of the very high prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and its effect on sleep and weight. SDB is a range of conditions that includes obstructive sleep apnea and upper airway resistance syndrome. People with SDB can sleep 9 hours every night but they are not getting restorative sleep due to their breathing problems. Many people who begin treatment for SDB suddenly find that it is easy to lose weight – it was for me after trying unsuccessfully for years before my sleep apnea was diagnosed and treated.

    More than 50% of our population has SDB (at a level that requires treatment) or will develop it as they age. See a sleep specialist for a consultation and have a sleep study if he recommends it. Be sure to choose a doctor who is associated with a sleep lab which is accredited by AASM.

    October 20, 2010 at 08:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Menopause Education

    I think everyone is individual with their sleeping patterns. Some people feel great on four hours of sleep whereas others feel great at 9 hours of sleep. I know dealing with women going through menopause, this can be a difficult subject.

    http://www.360menopause.com/blog

    October 20, 2010 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
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    October 23, 2010 at 20:46 | Report abuse | Reply
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