Diet & Nutrition

Following the 'Sleep Diet' might just be the easiest way to lose weight

So quit counting calories and start counting sheep, stat!

The Little Mermaid sleeping

At first glance, the phrase "sleep diet" may seem a little strange. But trust us: After you hear about what a sleep diet really entails, you'll be all the way on board with trying it.

First off, the sleep diet has nothing to do with eating. Based on research, it's a proven way to get you a lot healthier than you are right now. And all you have to do is... sleep. Yes, really. Not in excessive amounts; not right before or after you eat. You just need to sleep well, and sleep enough.

Hear us out: A study published in The Lancet says that sleep is crucially important for metabolic function and hormone stability. Not only does metabolism play a huge role in weight loss, it also can lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease.

If that alone doesn't convince you, consider another study that found waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day was strongly linked to having lower body fat.

So what does this mysterious sleep diet entail?

The sleep diet basics

First, you need to set a time frame for yourself to go on the diet — perhaps a week or so. Then, you need to figure out how much sleep you really want to get and when you need to go to bed in order to get that magic number of hours. To help you work that out, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours a night for adults 26-64 and 7-8 hours a night for adults 65 and older.

Like most diets, commitment is key — and also the hardest step. So give yourself a plan to follow by writing down your chosen hours. Or, make use of that Bedtime app on your iPhone. The app allows you to set your sleeping hours and your phone will send you a reminder when it's time to go to bed. Plus, the alarm tones are far more gentle than the dream-shattering sirens we're use to.

Then, for the time frame of your diet, stick to your set bedtime. That's it.

It's easier said than done, but remember: There's never been a better time — or a better reason — to start catching those zzzs!

This article first appeared on our sister site, Woman's World