Want to Lose Weight? Don't Lose Sleep

sleep, sleeping woman
sleep, sleeping woman
Want to lose weight? Don't lose sleep, says study. (istockphoto)

(CBS/WebMD) If your diet isn't going as well as you had hoped, the problem may not be your food choices or exercise habits. It may be your sleeping habits. Sleep loss may hamper even your best attempts to lose weight, according to new research in the Oct. 5 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Overweight adults lost 55% less fat when they got 5.5 hours of sleep per night, compared with when they slept for 8.5 hours a night, the new study showed.

"Sleep loss can prevent the loss of fat and make the body stingier when it comes to using fat as a fuel," explains Plamen Penev, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. Instead, the body burns off lean body mass, he says. The weight loss may be the same at the end of the day, but people who get adequate sleep lose more fat than their counterparts who are sleep-deprived.

"The sleep loss slows the loss of fat and speeds thBody Image Wars: 10 Signs You're a Victime undesirable loss of lean body mass, which doesn't help the body burn energy or calories," he says. "Sleep loss is accompanied by an increase in hunger that makes it less likely that you could adhere to diet."

In general, "losing weight becomes a more difficult fight when you don't get adequate sleep," he tells WebMD.