"Getting sufficient sleep may play an important role in losing weight, according to a small crossover study in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Researchers studied 10 overweight sedentary volunteers in a sleep laboratory for two 2-week periods: one period was restricted to 5.5 bedtime hours per night and the other to 8.5 hours per night. (The two study periods were separated by at least 3 months.)
Subjects lost significantly more lean-mass weight and less body fat when sleeping 5.5 hours a night than when sleeping 8.5 hours. In addition, less sleep led to higher circulating levels of ghrelin, which increases the sense of hunger.
Both the researchers and editorialists point to the study's small sample size and its artificial conditions, and they caution against generalizing without further research. Editorialists speculate that 'perhaps sleep should be included as part of the lifestyle package that traditionally has focused on diet and exercise.'"
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