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Our Services > Wellness > Health Tips > Hit the Snooze Button

Sleep and Dieting

Hit the Snooze Button to Burn Fat

Hit that snooze button and sleep in a little later tomorrow. The connection between sleep and weight loss is one of the best kept secrets to dieting success.

According to research, getting enough sleep (8 or more hours every single night) helps your body burn fat when you're dieting. Maybe you should head to bed earlier, too, for good measure.

Sleep and Weight Loss

In a small study, getting less than the optimal amount of sleep each night had detrimental effects on a group of dieters. After 2 weeks, the dieters who had spent a mere 5.5 hours sleeping each night lost 55 percent less body fat compared with the dieters who spent 8.5 hours snoozing nightly.

And here's the really big surprise. Not only did the light sleepers burn less body fat, but also their weight loss efforts carved away substantially more lean body mass than did similar efforts by the good sleepers. Not good, because muscle helps keep your metabolism fired up, so you naturally burn fat and additional calories throughout the day.

Hoarding Fuel

But that's not all. The short-duration sleepers also had higher levels of ghrelin in their system—a hormone that induces hunger. And it seems that extra ghrelin triggered an energy-starved body to retain fat and calories rather than burn fat and calories.

Interestingly, both groups of dieters lost the same amount of weight. But given the difference in muscle loss and appetite hormones as well as in calorie burning, it's easy to speculate that the good sleepers are better set up for long-term weight loss success.

For Your Waist's Sake

If you are routinely sleep deprived and struggling with your weight, try these tips from the National Institutes of Health and the National Sleep Foundation to get maximum sleep:

  • Avoid alcoholic drinks in the evening.
  • Watch your caffeine intake during the day.
  • Don't exercise too late in the day or in the early evening.
  • Avoid large meals late at night.
  • Relax before going to bed.