It has been all over the news the last couple of days since a study was published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. Lose weight while sleeping! Well that certainly beats dieting and going to the gym, right?
Despite the click-bait headlines, there are some important findings. There are also some reasons to be wary of the advice.
In a nutshell, the study involved 80 participants between the ages of 21 and 40 who got less than 6.5 hours of sleep per night. Half of the participants kept their current sleep patterns while the other half were coached about how to increase their nightly sleep to 8.5 hours. After two weeks, lab tests showed that the group that got more sleep consumed on average 270 calories/day less than the control group. Over time, that can contribute to weight loss.
Some in the field of sleep study see this is a game changer. To me, it looks like simple math; the less time you are awake, the less time you have to eat. The logic is similar to that of intermittent fasting; limit the time you can eat and you will naturally consume less calories.
While getting adequate rest is extremely important, one should not presume that this is necessarily the best route for losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight. If one’s diet is unhealthy and/or one is sedentary most of the day, increasing sleep will only go so far.
It will be interesting to see if there is follow-up research on this topic. In the meantime, it seems as if this could be yet another reason to take seriously how much quality rest we get. Even if it does not lead to dramatic weight loss, it helps us to refresh and start the new day on the right note.