NEW YORK-How much you sleep may be as important as how much you eat when you are trying to lose weight. It's true, according to a University of Chicago study. Research shows that a lack of sleep undermines your efforts to lose body fat. A virtual office space could help your cause.

Ten overweight but otherwise healthy adults on a moderate calorie-restricted diet were randomly assigned to sleep either 5.5 hours or 8.5 hours each night in a closed clinical research environment. After two weeks, researchers measured loss of fat and lean body mass. Compared to participants who slept 5.5 hours a night, the dieters that slept for 8.5 hours lost a whopping 56 percent more body fat. The dieters in the sleep restricted group had lost less fat and more lean body mass.

“Among other hormonal effects, we found that sleep restriction caused an increase in ghrelin levels in the blood,” says Plamen Penev, MD, PhD, assistant professor, Section of Endocrinology, at the University of Chicago and lead author of the study. “Ghrelin is a hormone that has been shown to reduce energy expenditure, stimulate hunger and food intake, promote retention of fat, and increase glucose production in the body.”

The conclusion: It’s importance to get adequate sleep to maintain fat-free body mass when dieting to lose weight. The Ghrelin factor could explain why sleep-deprived participants also reported feeling hungrier during the study. The study shows that even short periods of sleep deprivation can undermine efforts to lose weight. When restricting calories, dieters should consider obtaining adequate amounts of sleep to ensure that they retain lean body mass and lose fat.

So what does that have to do with a virtual office? There are two angles on this. One of them we have explored before. When you work from a virtual office, you are more productive. There are less distractions than when you work in one of a row of cubicles in a traditional office space. There are also fewer distractions than when you work from a coworking facility or a coffee shop. With fewer distractions, you can get more work done, get to bed at a decent hour, and enjoy a good night’s rest.

The other angle is avoiding the temptation to eat. When you work from a Starbucks, you may load up on coffee, but you might also be tempted to load up on high-calorie cappuccinos, pastries and other goodies in the refrigerated section. If you work in traditional office space, you may be tempted to go out to lunch with co-workers who aren’t watching their weight and end up eating something you wish you hadn’t. With a virtual office space, you can take control of your time—and your caloric intake—more easily.