Does Losing Sleep Mean Gaining Weight?

"It isn't so simple just to tell people to sleep more and then they will lose weight," said Dr. Lee Kaplan, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center in Boston. "People should see that when put into the total picture of all the things that cause people to gain weight, sleep is something that individuals should really aim to improve. But at the same time, sleep deprivation is only one contributor to the obesity puzzle."

Kaplan also cited food intake, stress levels and amount of exercise as other factors individuals should modify to lose weight.

'A Very Convincing Picture'

Mignot agreed that physicians should view sleep as just one facet on the battle against obesity. But he added that the two studies could be used as a springboard to finding ways to fix the hormonal changes that cause people to eat more and gain weight.

"I think these two studies are perfect in terms of complementing each other," he said. "When you put them together, they paint a very convincing picture. Now we need to look closer at why sleep affects these two important hormones and what we can do to change the balance in favor of losing weight."

Dr. David Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University, looked at the results from a different angle.

"People laugh at commercials that promote money-making schemes that help you 'lose weight in your sleep,' " he said. "But guess what? This shows that if you sleep enough each night, you can lose weight in your sleep without paying a single penny."

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