Episode 69


Lose Weight In Your Sleep

What if I told you all you had to do to lose weight was just sleep? 
Sounds too good to be true?

In this episode, I take a look into whether sleeping will actually help you achieve a more ideal body weight .

You may have seen the click bait headlines last month about a recently published study. Can you actually lose weight just by sleeping? The simple answer is: yes, but with a lot of caveats. 

First, in clinical trials, patient selection makes a huge difference. And in this study, they were young, otherwise healthy, and overweight but not obese. 

Furthermore, their sleep was screened with a fine-tooth comb - ensuring that their sleep duration was inadequate on average looking from a longer time horizon, but at the same time, that no other sleep disorders were present when taking a microscopic detailed view. 

This led to 62% of patients screened for the study being rejected. 

But yet, when otherwise healthy individuals with no sleep issues - other than not getting enough of it - were provided detailed, personalized instruction and repeated feedback, they were able to prolong their sleep by over an hour each night after just 2 weeks, and as a result, lose weight. 

When they slept more, they consumed fewer calories, all the while burning no more and no fewer calories during the day. But that calorie deficit, over 160 calories per day for each additional hour of nightly sleep - translated into weight difference of about 2 pounds over just 2 weeks. Not dramatic, but right on target. 

Will an intervention work for people with less than ideal health? It’s hard to say. What about those who are not just overweight, but have a BMI in the obesity range? Not sure. What about adults who are middle-aged or older? It’s not clear. What about individuals who already achieve sleep durations within the normal range - what room for improvement is there - can sleep be extended further? What about just improving sleep efficiency? Or just sleep quality? We don’t know. 

But what is clear, is that at the most fundamental levels of metabolism, sleep plays a key role. And I won’t be surprise to see many of these questions answered in the near future given the pace of advancement in this area. 


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