A calorie deficit is hard to maintain (just ask anyone on the Atkins!), but more and more research is suggesting that losing weight gets even harder without sufficient sleep.
The American Heart Association in March conducted a case study with 17 healthy adults whose ages ranged from 18-40. Half the study group slept normally whilst the other group deprived themselves of sleep. Both groups ate what they chose.
Results were telling: the sleep-deprived group ate on average 550 more calories daily than did the group that slept normally. However, the results are rather surprising, as sleep deprivation is tied to increased leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite. Researchers commented:
The assumption that it’s governed by these two hormones is simplistic. We were kind of hoping that this would be true … we could then do something about them to try and treat obesity, but that wasn’t the case.
Another publication from the Canadian Medical Association Journal reports adequate sleep is conducive to weight loss. During a study conducted with 123 obese adults over the course of 17 weeks, there was adequate statistical significance to project the relationship between adequate sleep (8.5 hours) and weight loss. Less than enough sleep is associated with less weight loss. Researchers propose:
New studies provide evidence that insufficient sleep enhances hedonic stimulus processing in the brain underlying the drive to consume food; thus, insufficient sleep results in increased food intake.
However, the authors are clear not to come off to strongly:
The solution is not as simple as ‘eat less, move more, sleep more. However, an accumulating body of evidence suggests that sleeping habits should not be overlooked when prescribing a weight-reduction program to a patient with obesity.
Jean-Philippe Chaput and Angelo Tremblay. Adequate sleep to improve the treatment of obesity. CMAJ cmaj.120876; published ahead of print September 17, 2012.
American Heart Association Meeting, March 2012