From The Straits Times    |

A good night's sleep can help you slim downA mounting body of research shows that coming up short on sleep can boost hunger signals in the brain and raise levels of hormones that affect appetite, causing us to eat more than we should.

In an editorial published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers write that sleep habits should be considered along with diet and exercise in designing programs to help obese people lose weight. There is strong evidence that a lack of sleep contributes to the obesity epidemic, and considering that sleep gets less attention than diet and exercise, that may be at least partly why many weight-loss efforts fail, they said.

Among many studies, the scientists point to a 2010 study from the University of Chicago (published in the Annals of Internal Medicine) in which participants were randomly assigned to sleep either 5.5 hours or 8.5 hours every night in a sleep lab for 14 days. Subjects reduced their calorie intake by 680 calories. Those who slept 5.5 hours lost 55 percent less body fat, and 60 percent more of their lean body mass than those who dozed longer.

Further research could offer ways people could get more sleep, such as trimming back on television viewing in the evening, to see whether it affects diet success, the researchers added.