Your typical weight loss checklist:
- Eat right … check!
- Exercise … check!
But there’s another factor just as important. And if you are like two out of three Americans, you aren’t paying attention to this key activity.
And this is despite the fact that study after study says that doing this is crucial for losing weight.
What is this critical weight loss component?
I’ll tell you in a few … but first, let’s take a look at the research.
In a new study done at the University of Pennsylvania, researchers split 225 healthy individuals into two groups and put them in a lab for 18 days.1
Group # 1 spent only four hours per day doing this
Group # 2 spent 10 hours per day doing this
Group #1 spent only four hours a day in bed. And those hours were between 4am and 8am. Contrast this with Group #2, who were in bed for 10 hours each night from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.
And here’s something really interesting:
The sleep-deprived group ate about 100 calories less, on average, during the daytime hours. But they noshed like mad through those extra late night hours… consuming, on average, over 550 extra calories.
This wasn’t the first study to find that staying up until the wee hours can expand your waistline. A study done at Northwestern University found that people who go to bed late eat more food (on average 248 more calories per day), have worse diets and are more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI).2
Here’s another study showing the waist expanding effects of too little sleep:
Researchers followed 43 adults who were short sleepers—sleeping no more than six hours per night—over a six-year period. Compared to the short sleepers, those who increased their sleep duration to a healthier seven- to eight-hour period gained significantly less weight and body fat over the six-year follow-up period.3
And you don’t have to put in months of good sleep to see the results.
Only a few weeks of sufficient sleep can boost your dieting efforts. In one study, researchers assigned 10 overweight adults to follow a reduced-calorie diet during two, 14-day sessions:
One with adequate sleep (8.5 hours); the other with less sleep (5.5 hours). While the subjects lost the same amount of total weight during both sessions (about 6 lbs), when sleep was adequate, they lost more body fat, preserved more lean mass and torched about 100 more calories per day.4
Why Staying Up Keeps You Stout
Blame it on biology: Sleep deprivation not only increases the level of ghrelin (a gut hormone that promotes hunger), but also lowers the level of leptin (a fat cell hormone that promotes satiety).
Research has proved it.
In one large population study involving over 1,000 volunteers, short sleep duration was a significant predictor of low blood leptin AND high blood ghrelin. In fact, the researchers estimated that, compared to those who slept for eight hours, those who slept for only five hours had a 15 percent lower blood leptin and 15 percent higher blood ghrelin, independent of BMI.5
I can’t resist here… our product, Weight Loss Formula No. 1, reduces ghrelin levels by 20 percent, which is a big reason why it is so effective for reducing cravings and dropping pounds.
Not only is sleep deprivation causing your hunger hormones to go haywire, there may be some environmental factors at play as well. When you’re tired, those chocolate-covered pretzels calling your name from the cupboard are tougher to resist.
To Ensure Proper Zzzs
Don’t let sleep deprivation derail your dieting efforts. Here are some tips to make sure you sleep smart:
- Prime your bedroom for sleep. A comfortable night’s sleep requires three essentials: a cool temperature, (between 60 and 68 degrees is ideal), dark room and minimal noise.
- Make it a habit. Go to bed at about the same time every night, and wake up at about the same time every morning, even on weekends and vacations. I know it’s tempting to sleep in on a Saturday, but the body thrives on routine.
- Exercise, but not too late. Exercise and light physical activity during the day can help promote restful sleep. But finish at least a few hours before bed.
- Take a hot shower or bath about an hour before bed. You’ll raise your core body temperature and as you cool off, your body will get the signal that it’s time to sleep.
- Avoid caffeine after late afternoon. Its stimulating effects can last for several hours. Keep in mind, coffee and soda aren’t the only things that have caffeine. Certain pain relievers, weight loss pills, diuretics and cough and cold medicines can have just as much or even more caffeine than a cup of joe.
- Keep your electronics out of the bedroom. The blue wavelengths your gadgets produce significantly suppress the production of melatonin according to a study done at the Center for Chronobiology at the University of Basel. Shut down an hour before bed.6
If you must be up late, keep some healthy snacks handy. My favorites are frozen grapes or berries, air popped popcorn, and low-fat string cheese. What are yours? I’d love to hear.
Steve Sisskind, M.D.
Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.
As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.
Years later I discovered a better approach... based on the fundamental idea that the power of nutrition can transform your health and vitality. But there's a lot of confusion... What foods should I eat? Which supplements should I take? What does the science say?
I have dedicated my life to answering these questions... And I share this knowledge with you every day here at RealDose Nutrition.
I invite you to connect with me by joining my free private community. I've helped thousands of people and I know I can help you too!
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1. Spaeth AM, Dinges DF, Goel N. Effects of experimental sleep restriction on weight gain, caloric intake, and meal timing in healthy adults. Sleep. 2013;36(7):981-990. PMID: 23814334.
2. Baron KG, Reid KJ, Kern AS, Zee PC. Role of sleep timing in caloric intake and BMI. Obesity. 2011;19(7):1374-1381. PMID: 21527892.
3. Chaput JP, Després JP, Bouchard C, Tremblay A. Longer sleep duration associates with lower adiposity gain in adult short sleepers. Int J Obes. 2012;36(5):752-756. PMID: 21654631.
4. Nedeltcheva AV, Kilkus JM, Imperial J, Schoeller DA, Penev PD. Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity. Ann Intern Med. 2010;153(7):435-441. PMID: 20921542.
5. Taheri S, Lin L, Austin D, Young T, Mignot E. Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index. PLoS Med. 2004;1(3):210-217. PMID: 15602591.
6. Cajochen C, Frey S, Anders D, et al. Evening exposure to a light-emitting diodes (LED)-backlit computer screen affects circadian physiology and cognitive performance. J Appl Physiol. 2011;110(5):1432-1438. PMID: 21415172.