If you’re sleeping, you’re not eating. That’s basically the main idea behind the Sleeping Beauty Diet, an increasingly popular weight loss method that encourages people to take sedatives in order to sleep for up to 20 hours a day and skip meals.
It’s hard to even consider the Sleeping Beauty Diet an actual diet, because it doesn’t prescribe the things you should eat those you should avoid. Instead, it just recommends a lot less eating and whole lot of sleeping. Advocates claim that apart from the obvious “benefit” of reducing calorie intake, this controversial weight-loss method also takes advantage of our bodies’ ability to regulate our metabolism through sleep, which accelerates weight-loss even more. However, there isn’t a lot of science that supports this theory, and even if there were, the risks of undergoing such an extreme regimen still outweigh the benefits by quite a large margin.
The most dangerous aspect of the Sleeping Beauty Diet is the use of sedatives, most commonly benzodiazepines like diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax), to force the brain to sleep a lot more than it needs to. No matter how much you enjoy sleeping, it’s unlikely that you can do it naturally for 20 hours out of 24, without the use of medication.
“If people have to rely on medications to produce sleep—particularly [meds] like benzodiazepines, which are addictive—it’s putting the person at risk of addiction,” Dr. Tracey Wade, a professor at the Flinders University School of Psychology, told VICE Broadly. “It’s not only getting the body to sleep more than it needs to; they’ll also have to use higher and higher dosage levels to get the desired effect.”