By Aditi Girish Kallanagoudar | Contributor
Recent research has found that people who typically sleep for less than 6.5 hours a night can shed an average of 270 calories with just an extra 1.2 hours of sleep per night. This was discovered through a small clinical trial carried out among overweight adults in the US.
To put into perspective, this seemingly small calorie burn can lead people to lose up to 12 kg (26lbs) without changing their diet during the day, if the regime is maintained for about three years. Some participants in the study even began to consume fewer calories a day after improving their sleep, cutting their intake by nearly 500 calories.
“If healthy sleep habits are maintained over longer duration, this would lead to clinically important weight loss over time,” saya Dr Esra Tasali, a scientist at the sleep centre of the University of Chicago.
The study, which wasn’t carried out with the intention of observing weight loss, showed a surprising fall in calories within two weeks of the patients changing their sleep schedules. This unexpected result could be life changing for many people who work hard to find ways to decrease their caloric intake to lose weight.
The trial, which was carried out among 80 overweight adults aged between 21 to 40 with a body mass index between 25 and 29.9, did not require the volunteers to restrict their diet or change their exercise routines in any form. They were simply told to sleep in their own beds, wear devices that help track sleep duration and asked to extend the amount of time they slept each night.
While previous studies have shown that getting too little sleep can lead people to put on weight by increasing their food intake, since you have more conscious hours, this study doesn’t touch upon food intake at all and only manipulates the hours of sleep the patients get.
“Most other studies on this topic in labs are short-lived, for a couple of days, and food intake is measured by how much participants consume from an offered diet but in our study we only manipulated sleep and had the participants eat whatever they wanted, with no food logging or anything else to track their nutrition by themselves”, says Tasali.
Another surprising revelation from the study is that a single sleep counselling session changed people’s bedtime habits and improved the amount of sleep they got. By simply coaching each individual on good sleep hygiene and providing tailored advice based on an individual’s personal sleep environment, the scientists were able to drastically improve the sleep patterns of the patients.Science and Technology