Want To Lose Some Weight? Try Sleeping More.

Findings from a randomized controlled trial reported in JAMA Internal Medicine today show that among short sleepers, adding sleep decreased calorie intake and led to some weight loss.

Findings from a randomized controlled trial reported in JAMA Internal Medicine today show that among short sleepers, adding sleep decreased calorie intake and led to some weight loss.

Diets, more diets, exercise, apps — there is seemingly no end to the ways that people try to lose weight. According to the results of a randomized controlled trial reported today in JAMA Internal Medicine, simply getting more sleep might be added to that list.

Study volunteers in the trial who were randomized to the “sleep extension” group had a sizable decrease in energy intake compared with the control group (270 calories per day versus 147). Those in the sleep extension group lost a little bit of weight (1 pound) while those whose sleep did not change gained weight (.8 pounds). There was no difference between the groups when it came to energy expenditure.

The researchers calculated that each one-hour increase in sleep duration was associated with a decrease in energy intake of about 162 calories.

Because the study was relatively short — just two weeks after a two-week baseline period — and small — 80 volunteers — the results should be interpreted with a good deal of caution. Other studies have also found connections between the sleep and bodyweight. But, as Esra Tasali, M.D., and her colleagues at the University of Chicago noted, the strength of their findings is that they came from a randomized controlled trial, not an observational study that might be confounded, and that the people’s sleep was objectively monitored at home in a “real-world” setting, not a sleep lab .

“Along with a healthy diet and regular physical activity, healthy sleep habits should be integrated into public messages to help reduce the risk of obesity and related conditions,” Tasali and her colleagues wrote in discussion section of their study in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The participants in this trial were overweight (a BMI of between 25 and 29.9) and self-reported sleeping less than 6.5 hours per night. Their short-sleep habits were confirmed prior by a week of wrist actigraphy, devices worn on the wrist that sense motion and therefore how long a person is sleeping.

The intervention group received sleep hygiene counseling, and wrist actigraphy showed that the amount they slept per night increased by 1.2 hoursHere is a chart in the JAMA Internal Medicine article that shows the increase in the sleeping time (the sleep extension period) of volunteers randomized to get sleep hygiene advice compared with the control group.

To mitigate selection bias, the researchers were vague about the purposes of the trial while they tried to recruit patients. The control group was blinded to the purpose until the end of the study.