To achieve the goals set in a weight loss plan, getting adequate sleep is a must according to findings of a new study.

Researchers studied two groups of people with varying hours of sleep a night. The first group of people each got 5.5 hours sleep a night over a two week period. The second group consisted of people who got 8.5 hours sleep a night, over the same period.

After the two week trial, researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison compared the participants’ body mass at the end of the study with the BMI at the beginning. It was found that the 5.5 hour group lost less weight and more muscle.

“Cutting back on sleep, a behavior that is ubiquitous in modern society appears to compromise efforts to lose fat through dieting. In our study it reduced fat loss by 55 percent,” said lead researcher Plamen Penev.

The study noted the need for more research to determine the precise ways in which sleep or the lack of sleep relates to weight loss and weight management.

“The bottom line is that if people are trying to diet and lose weight for health reasons, it makes sense to get a sufficient amount of sleep”, Dr. Penev added.

The study is published in the recent issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.