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You Snooze You Lose

June 10th, 2011 - By Lari Robling

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It’s good news! Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education recent pilot study suggests getting a good night’s sleep regularly can help shed pounds and keep them off.


Gary Foster, PhD

Yep, we’ve all been there! Late night TV, Facebook, ESPN updates and of course, the demands of kids. There’s a reason to be up into the wee hours. But not getting enough ‘Zzzzz’ could be why you are losing the battle of the bulge, “our hypothesis is that people who are able to increase their sleep duration will actually lose more weight. We think that’s true for a couple of factors. There’s some hormones that have to do with eating and appetite that get dis-regulated during sleep deprivation. So, if we can minimize sleep deprivation, increase sleep duration, we think we can alter some hormones.” That’s Dr. Gary Foster, Director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University. He’s the lead author in a study funded by the National Institute of Health to examine if sleep habits could be a weight control tool.

“We also think that the longer people are up you have greater access to all the environmental cues to eat. Weight control is tough work and you have to do a lot of cognitive override to get by all these environmental cues. So, if you’re going to try and think about what am I going to have for lunch because of what I had for breakfast. And you’re tired, you’re impulse will be, ‘I’ll think about that later, I’m exhausted let me just get lunch.’ ” So the pilot group met regularly to follow a standard weight loss program and learn healthy sleep habits. Most of us get less than seven hours — and once again mom was right we need eight.

Frank Connolly was a participant. Changes in his diet and sleep patterns helped him lose weight and keep it off, “I did not have a bedtime I just kinda fell asleep on the chair or the couch. They told me to pick a predetermined time and stick to that bedtime. Once I got more regulated in my sleeping, I got more regulated in everything else I was doing.”

Further research is planned, but it looks as if in addition to counting calories, adding a few servings of fruits and vegetables, drinking water, also adding an hour of sweet dreams, is sweet for our health.

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