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Lose weight, increase sleep time and the pounds will fly away

Health professionals have long pondered the link between sleep and calorie intake. They consider lack of sleep as a risk factor for obesity. However, extensive research has not been done to determine whether sleep can directly affect the amount of food eaten. This has been the case until now.

A new study, published February 7, 2022 in JAMA Internal Medicine, sought to answer a simple question: what effect does prolonged sleep have on objectively assessed energy intake in overweight adults in their usual home environment?

Over the years, sleep restrictions have been shown to have an impact on appetite regulation, leading to increased food intake and therefore putting you at risk for weight gain over time. More recently, everyone was wondering: if this is the case with lack of sleep, can we prolong sleep and reverse some of these negative consequences?

What the researchers found was that longer sleep durations in a real-world setting actually helped reduce calorie intake, and experts hope to further study the relationship between sleep and calorie intake.

Study: Sleep and Calorie Intake

To examine the link between sleep and caloric intake, researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted a randomized clinical trial in 80 overweight young adults (aged 21 to 40) who regularly weighed less than 6.5 slept hours a night. Subjects were included in the control group or received personalized sleep hygiene advice after a two-week baseline study.

Subjects receiving sleep intervention counseling aimed to increase their sleep time to 8.5 hours per night, while subjects in the control group continued to sleep according to their usual schedules. The authors found that subjects who received sleep counseling were able to add an additional 1.2 hours of sleep per night. Even more interesting, they ate an average of 270 fewer calories per day thanks to that extra hour of sleep.
If these people could sustain that extra 1.2 hours of sleep over a three-year period, it would result in weight loss.

Improving your sleep duration leads to weight loss

Findings suggest that improving and maintaining adequate sleep duration may reduce weight and be a viable intervention for obesity prevention and weight loss programs. This study found that prolonged sleep decreased energy intake and led to negative energy balance in real-world conditions in overweight adults who habitually reduced sleep duration. Improving and maintaining healthy sleep patterns for longer periods could be part of obesity prevention and weight loss programs.

Most other studies on the subject conducted in the laboratory are of short duration, a few days, and food intake is measured by the amount of food participants eat from a proposed diet. In this study, the researchers only manipulated sleep. They asked participants to eat whatever they wanted, with no food logging or anything else to self-track their diets.

After just one sleep counseling session, participants were able to change their sleeping habits to the point of increasing sleep duration. They simply coached each individual on good sleep hygiene and discussed their personal sleep environment and provided tailored advice on changes they could make to improve their sleep duration.

Tips to improve sleep

If you’re constantly tired and feeling down, getting better sleep can definitely help. It turns out it can also help you eat less.
Try these natural sleep aids that will help you get seven to nine hours of sleep every night and improve virtually every aspect of your health:

– Eat more foods that promote sleep. These include calcium-rich foods, magnesium-rich foods, and foods that contain tryptophan.

– Try essential oils for sleeping, such as bergamot, lavender, sandalwood, frankincense and tangerine.

– Use herbal supplements like passion flower, valerian root, and St. John’s wort to help you sleep.


Researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison set out to answer the following question: How does prolonged sleep affect the objectively measured energy intake of overweight adults in their usual home environment? The study found that overweight young adults who were able to increase their nightly sleep time by 1.2 hours consumed an average of 270 fewer calories per day. These results show a promising relationship between sleep and calorie intake. To improve your sleep so you can get seven to nine hours of sleep each night, eat more sleep-inducing foods, try essential oils for sleep, and use sleep-inducing herbs.


Effect of sleep prolongation on objectively assessed energy intake in overweight adults in real-world settings. A randomized clinical trial

* Presse Santé strives to convey health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE can the information given replace the advice of a doctor.

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