April 25, 2006 -- It's conventional wisdom that if you want to shed some weight, you head to the gym and eat less. It turns out, however, that sleeping may be one of the best things people can do to get thin.
"There's convincing evidence that a good night's sleep really can pay dividends in terms of weight control," said "Good Morning America" medical contributor Dr. David Katz.
New studies show that sleeping fewer than eight hours a night boosts our levels of ghrelin, a hormone that makes us feel hungry, while suppressing another hormone, leptin, that makes us feel full.
In fact, experts are starting to see a critical link. Americans are sleeping less than ever and are bigger than ever: 63 percent of American adults do not get eight hours of sleep a night, and 65 percent are overweight or obese. And, of course, sleeping enough helps on multiple levels.
"You'll feel more energetic," Katz said. "You'll feel more like doing physical activity. You'll be more thoughtful about your food choice, but you will actually have influenced hormones that play a role in appetite."
For those who feel that sleep alone cannot possibly help you lose weight, hypnosis is catching on as a tool in the battle of the bulge. Experts say it can boost determination and willpower.
Australian hypnotherapist Rick Collingwood has been having some success with his hypnosis CDs.
About 60 percent of his patients noticed a difference when they played the CDs imploring them to lay off the food intake. They play the CDs 45 minutes a day, six days a week.
Another alternative is the hibernation or honey diet. Honey is thought to fuel the liver and persuade our bodies to burn up fat while we sleep, but Katz said he was not sure how effective the diet was.
"It may be pleasant, but I'm not sure if you can expect to see the benefits on the scale the following morning," he said.
Some supplements say they can help you build muscle from the comfort of your bed. The science, however, is inconclusive.