You already know that if you toss and turn all night, it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll wake up exhausted and jonesing for high-calorie comfort foods (grilled cheese and fries anyone?) the next day. That’s because the lack of sleep causes the hormones that control your appetite to go haywire.
A sleep-deprived body pumps out the hormone ghrelin, which makes you hungry, while decreasing the hormone leptin, which would otherwise tell you you’re full before polishing off that bag of chips. On the flipside, getting the sleep you need keeps these appetite hormones in check and helps prevent you from packing on the pounds. In fact, research consistently shows that catching quality z’s makes you slimmer.
But what if the reverse were true? That losing weight could help you sleep more soundly (a healthy catch-22 of sorts)? New research suggests, yes, the interaction works both ways.
In a Johns Hopkins study of 55 type 2 diabetes patients, the subjects were assigned to lose weight via a diet or a diet plus exercise. Both groups ended up dropping an average of 15 pounds and losing 15 percent of their belly fat while boosting their “sleep score” by 20 percent, meaning they experienced less sleepiness and restless sleep.
More than just shedding pounds, researchers attributed the improved slumber to losing body fat—specifically, belly fat. And it didn’t matter if the fat loss came from the subjects’ diet alone or the diet and exercise combo. (Though we’ve noticed hitting the gym in the evening helps us conk out faster.)
Bonus: Losing weight can also alleviate snoring and sleep apnea. The bottom line? Slimming down can help you get the sleep you’ve always dreamt about.
Find out if your hair is aging you and learn how to turn back the strands of time.
Highlight your eye color. Flaunt your body shape. Harness your confidence. Take our quizzes to better know yourself and get science-based, individualized advice to embrace your true beauty.
Find out if your hair is aging you and learn how to turn back the strands of time.Take Quiz
See how your BMI and waist-to-hip ratio is affecting your beauty and health.Take Quiz
Great sex does more than blow your mind—it's good for your heart, your head and your beauty.Take Quiz
Define your curves and discover the best ways to eat, exercise and dress for your figure.Take Quiz