A healthy diet and regular exercise make a great match, but it turns out getting eight and a half hours of sleep will make a significant difference in weight loss as well.
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The Annals of Internal Medicine has published research indicating that sleep has an incredible effect on weight loss. Of course, sleeping more isn't going to just burn a bunch of fat on its own, but when paired with a diet it makes a big difference.
There's not a diet pill on the planet that could accomplish what sleep did in this study, which compared two groups of overweight non-smokers on calorie restricted diets for 14 days. One group clocked 8.5 hours of sleep per night, and the other logged 5.5 hours of sleep per night (which the authors point out is a "norm" for people in this day and age.) Both groups ate roughly 1,450 calories a day. After two weeks, the people who slept more lost more fat than the group who slept less. More than half of the weight loss during the 8.5 hours of sleep was fat versus only one quarter of the weight loss during the 5.5 hours of sleep. People literally burned fat while they slept.
On top of that, subjects of the study who were sleeping less lost muscle mass instead of fat. Subjects receiving a full night's rest also woke up less hungry despite technically fasting for a significantly longer period of time. We all know that it's good to get a full night's rest, but if you're on a diet, you've now got another good excuse to actually do it.
Insufficient Sleep Undermines Dietary Efforts to Reduce Adiposity [Annals of Internal Medicine via Psychology Today]