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Eat less and move more to lose weight? It may not be that simple. A recent commentaryin the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests adequate sleep is also important to help keep off the pounds.

The Commentary

Researchers compared data across multiple studies that looked at possible links between sleep and weight management. They noticed a consistent connection between sleep and weight loss: The more sleep study participants got, the more effective their weight loss endeavorsRelationship between sleep quality and quantity and weight loss in women participating in a weight-loss intervention trial. Thomson CA, Morrow KL, Flatt SW, et al. Obesity (Silver Spring), 2012;20:1419-25.. (Take that, cabbage soup.) The authors performed their own observational study which reaffirmed these findings: Over six years, scientists discovered a switch from less than six hours of sleep to seven to eight hours was linked to less overall fat gainLonger sleep duration associates with lower adiposity gain in adult short sleepers. Chaput JP, Després JP, Bouchard C, et al. International Journal of Obesity (London), 2012;36:752-6.. Researchers also analyzed some potential mechanisms behind the sleep-weight connection. A lack of sleep — usually under 7 hours a night — can stimulate processes in the brain that cause an increase in appetite and weight gainInsuficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity. Nedeltcheva AV, Kilkus JM, Imperial J, et al. Annals of International Medicine, 2010;153:435-41Acute sleep deprivation enhances the brain’s response to hedonic food stimuli: an fMRI study. Benedicts, C., Brooks, S.J., O’Daly, O.G., et al. Department of Neuroscience, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. The Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2012 Mar;97(3):E443-7. Epub 2012 Jan 18.. Not catching enough Zzz’s can also affect glucose homeostasis, plasma leptin levels, and cortisol levels — fancy terms that also increase appetite and may tempt us to go for a seconds.

Can We Trust It?

This short (but sweet) commentary covers a variety of findings on the relationship between sleep and weight management. It’s safe to say that getting enough sleep is important to staying healthy and keeping off excess weight. But that doesn’t mean we should start hitting the hay for 12+ hours a night, as oversleeping is associated with its own potential health risks.

The Takeaway

Getting an adequate amount of snooze time is associated with less weight gain (experts recommend 7-9 hours), so don’t forget the importance of ample time between the sheets!

Think sleep is key to your personal weight loss (or gaining) goals? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet the author @lschwech