A study in Chicago found that an extra 90 minutes in bed could suppress your appetite. The study of overweight young adults found that those who went to bed earlier or stayed in bed for longer experienced a 14% drop in their appetite and a 62 per cent decline in their desire for unhealthy salty or sweet snacks. Previous studies have shown that too little sleep could lead to weight problems, partly because it disrupts the hormone balance which helps to keep appetite in check.
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Scientists from the University of Chicago wanted to see if a simple adjustment to sleeping patterns could bring about rapid changes in food cravings and eating habits. They studied ten overweight or obese men and women aged between 21 and 40 who slept an average of six and a half hours or less a night.
For the first week, they were told to carry on with their normal sleeping patterns, during which time they were quizzed on how hungry they felt and what foods they yearned for. In the second week, they were told to extend their time in bed to between eight and eight and a half hours. Each one was given a wrist monitor to record when they got out of bed and kept a daily log of their sleeping patterns.
The results, published in the journal Appetite, showed that by increasing their time in bed by just 90 minutes, the overweight volunteers drastically reduced their appetite – in particular their desire to scoff unhealthy snacks.
Professor Jim Horne, former head of sleep research at Loughborough University in Leicestershire, said more time in bed appears to curb appetite by directly affecting the brain, not just by preventing people from eating. He said the secret is the amount of Rapid Eye Movement Sleep, or REMS, which is when the brain switches into dream mode.
‘If you sleep longer you have more REM sleep and that has appetite suppressant properties,’ he added.