Add another to the list of sleep benefits: weight loss. Painting by Antonio Cortina Farinos, Public Domain.
Sleep deprivation is associated with weight gain according to a new study published in the journal Sleep. The finding is intuitive to anyone who has ever said to themselves, “I either need to eat or sleep right now.” Both provide the body with energy, so reducing sleep is compensated for by eating more (the experiment did not try reversing the variables). This also provides a healthy and easy tactic for anyone looking to lose weight: skip the trend diets and get your beauty rest.
In the study, conducted by Andrea Spaeth, David Dinges and Namni Goel, subjects were either restricted to four hours of sleep per night or given ten hours in bed. After five days of this, the sluggish four-hour group had consumed more food and gained an average of 2.1 pounds. The ten hour group essentially held their weight, gaining just under a quarter pound on average. Men gained more weight than women and African Americans more than Caucasians.
The sleep-deprived group ate more, consuming 130% of the daily average, while the well-rested were almost perfectly average, 100.6%, with less variation between subjects.
This study provides one more reason to believe something you already know: sleep is healthy. Your body needs it to function normally, and when you don’t sleep enough, you compensate with other measures in an attempt to balance out. This particular research could be motivating for many people who struggle to lose weight. Exercise and eating healthy are important, but you can start with something even more basic. Go to bed.