The Impact of Improved Sleep on Calorie Intake: Insights from Research

Experts generally attribute the growing obesity epidemic to increased caloric intake rather than inadequate exercise; however, a recent study demonstrates how sleep could significantly impact caloric intake in real world environments; this might alter our conception of weight loss to some degree.

Researchers conducted a randomized study involving 80 overweight individuals between 21 and 40 years of age who regularly slept less than 6.5 hours per night and found that individuals who consistently experienced difficulty with their sleeping could see significant improvements by attending personalized counseling sessions for sleep hygiene.

This treatment was intended to extend bed time duration up to 8.5 hours; doing so reduced daily caloric consumption by an average of 270 calories for participants compared with controls.

Not only did the study investigate the impact of extended sleep on calorie consumption, it did so under real world conditions without manipulation or control over participants’ diets.

Participants of the study slept in their own beds, wearable devices were used for monitoring sleep, and their normal lifestyle was observed without restrictions regarding exercise or diet.

Researchers tracked individuals’ calorie consumption objectively through “double labeled water” and energy store changes. This urine-based test involves indulging in drinking water whose oxygen and hydrogen atoms have been replaced by naturally occurring and easy-to-trace stable isotopes – this approach has become the gold standard for measuring daily energy expenditure in real world environments.

An increase in sleep time could reduce daily caloric consumption by an average of 270, leading to approximately 26 lbs, 12 kg weight loss over three years if maintained.

Even without additional lifestyle modification recommendations, most individuals experienced significant decreases in how much they consumed daily; with some individuals cutting their consumption by as much as 500 daily calories.

Although this was not designed as a weight-loss study, within two weeks a reduction in caloric intake and negative energy balance were evident. If healthy sleep habits could be maintained over an extended period, clinically significant weight loss would eventually occur.

Many individuals struggle to reduce calorie consumption in order to lose weight, and increasing sleep time could be one solution to help.