Why You Should Avoid The Sleeping Beauty Diet

A lot of little girls grow up wanting to look like a princess. Swishy gowns, long and beautiful hair, and that stereotypically slim frame. So it makes sense that a diet named after a popular princess would get people's attention. And at first glance, the diet doesn't really seem all that awful.

At its core, the Sleeping Beauty diet is, as the name implies, focused on sleep (via Women's Health). Adequate sleep is beneficial for everyone, of course. And as the National Sleep Foundation pointed out, it's helpful for weight loss as our bodies run more efficiently when we've had enough sleep. 

So a diet based on this concept — one that leaves you well rested — sounds like a fairytale, right? However, there is no "happily ever after" that follows this strange diet trend. Here's a look at why you should avoid the Sleeping Beauty diet at all costs.

The dangers of the diet

A closer look at the Sleeping Beauty diet reveals the thorns under the rose. In addition to excessive exercise when dieters are awake, this diet encourages people to use medications like Xanax to sleep at least ten hours per night. Some proponents even encourage dieters to time their medication so they sleep through at least one meal.

This diet is considered narcorexia, according to Dr. Michael J. Breus, a clinical psychologist and sleep specialist who wrote about the diet for HuffPost. "Narco" shares the same root as narcolepsy, while "rexia" shares the same root as anorexia. This makes sense. As Amy Shapiro, registered dietitian, told Women's Health, "Saying that you're going to sleep so you don't eat and overexercising when you're awake is disordered eating."

Women's Health pointed out that the diet is most popular among online anorexia communities. Members of these communities encourage each other not to seek help but to continue the disordered approach to food — an approach that may even have the opposite effect that dieters are hoping for. A 2008 study in the journal Sleep found that excessive sleep times can actually cause weight gain. The researchers theorized that excessive sleep interrupts the body's metabolic process though research is ongoing into the specific mechanisms involved. This means the diet is not only extremely dangerous but, in the long term, ineffective.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).