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Adequate Sleep Leads to More Fat Loss when Dieting

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Losing fat instead of body mass seems to depend on getting a good night’s sleep. Findings from researchers show sleeping more can boost fat loss as much as 55 percent compared to sleeping less.

One of the reasons that getting more sleep increases fat loss is because it suppresses the hormone gherlin that provokes hunger and reduces energy expenditure.

In a study of 10 overweight people, researchers compared weight loss differences in participants who slept an average of 7.5 hours versus just over 5 hours a night. For those sleeping less, weight loss was the same, but longer sleep duration led to more fat loss.

Study author Plamen Penev, MD, PhD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago says, "Cutting back on sleep, a behavior that is ubiquitous in modern society, appears to compromise efforts to lose fat through dieting. In our study it reduced fat loss by 55 percent."

Adequate Sleep Controls Hunger

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Sleeping longer also was found to control hunger that can thwart attempts at weight loss. For participants in the study who slept less were found to have increased gherlin levels – 5.5 hours of sleep caused a rise in the hormone level from 75 ng/L to 84 ng/L. Getting 8 ½ hours of slept kept the hunger hormone level consistent.

Higher levels of gherlin also promote fat retention. The authors write, “In our experiment, sleep restriction was accompanied by a similar pattern of increased hunger and … reduced oxidation of fat."

According to Penev, the message for dieters is that sleep is important for fat loss. "For the first time, we have evidence that the amount of sleep makes a big difference on the results of dietary interventions. One should not ignore the way they sleep when going on a diet. Obtaining adequate sleep may enhance the beneficial effects of a diet. Not getting enough sleep could defeat the desired effects."

In the study, longer sleep duration produced 3.1 pounds of fat loss and 3.3 pounds of fat-free body mass. During short sleep, the study participants lost an average of 1.3 pounds of fat and 5.3 pounds of fat-free mass. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep can lead to more fat loss versus loss of body mass according to the study findings.

ANN INTERN MED October 5, 2010 153:475-476



Wow, a whole ten people. So much for the scientific method!
Hey great blog!! I found it very beneficial and completely agree with the facts.