I’m in absolute awe of my friend, Angela. Over the last year she has lost 155lbs (yes, you read that correctly), and she continues to get closer to her goals by following the Medifast plan (they did not pay me to mention them) and making all around better choices in her life. In short, she is a rockstar!
The other night, Angela and I were texting and the topic of the dreaded scale came up. As you can see from the screen shot below I was telling her that I no longer get on my damn scales”so I don’t get frustrated.” Her response was simply, “…I just stand still and then drop a couple of pounds after sleeping in Saturdays, lol!” …[silence on my end followed by a quick intake of breath before having the following conversation in my head] LOL?!?
You mean to tell me that you can lose weight while you sleep…? That’s not funny, that is AWESOME!
This late night conversation got me thinking: 1) I should be asleep since it is 11pm; and 2) is she on to something here? So, the next day I began my quest for substantiating evidence. I found a multitude of studies on the topic of sleep and weight loss but I focused on two in particular. One of the studies is from the University of Chicago and the other is a joint project between Stanford and the University of Wisconsin.
In a nutshell, I learned about two hormones: leptin, and ghrelin.
Leptin and ghrelin are recognized for having influence on our balance of energy. Leptin is the mediator of long-term regulation of energy and the suppression of food intake, It basically induces weight loss. Ghrelin, on the other hand, is a fast-acting hormone that plays a key role in creating our desire to eat a meal.
In the Chicago study, the 12 male volunteers were subjected to two days of sleep deprivation followed by two days of extended sleep. During this time doctors monitored their hormone levels, appetite, and activity. They found that when sleep was restricted, leptin levels went down and ghrelin levels went up. Not surprisingly, the men’s appetite increased proportionally, and their desire for high-carbohydrate, calorie-dense foods increased by a whopping 45%. Which is exactly what most of us are trying to avoid!
The researchers in the Stanford study examined the sleep patterns of 1,024 volunteers, both men and women. Their results were similar: those who slept less than eight hours a night not only had lower levels of leptin and higher levels of ghrelin, but they also had a higher level of body fat. What’s more, that level of body fat seemed to correlate with their sleep patterns, and those who slept the fewest hours weighed the most.
So, here is your “proof” that it is possible to start losing weight while you sleep. You may not lose those pounds dramatically just by sleeping in a few Saturdays a month, but it sure won’t hurt to try!