There’s a new weapon in the battle of the bulge. If you’ve tried cutting calories, exercising more, and you still can’t lose weight, try sleeping additional hours. Spending more time snoozing cuts calorie intake and translates into a lower number on the scale, according to a recent study.

Ideally, adults need to sleep at least seven hours at night, but about a third of U.S. adults don’t get that much snooze time. Obesity is just one of several chronic health conditions that can contribute to insufficient sleep.

Participants ate what they wanted and did nothing to track their food intake. Still, their calorie intake decreased by an average of 270 calories each day.

Researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison looked at the relationship between getting enough sleep and calorie intake. They tracked the sleep habits of 80 overweight adults between the ages of 21 and 40. Each person slept less than 6½ hours per night. Some of the participants received sleep counseling intervention to help them increase their sleep time to 8.5 hours, while others maintained their normal sleep habits.

Each person was instructed to continue their normal daily eating and exercise routines. They slept in their own beds with their sleep monitored by wearable devices.

Participants who received sleep counseling slept over an hour more every night on average. Their calorie intake decreased by an average of 270 calories each day. If these changes were sustained long term, it could result in a loss of about 26 pounds over three years.

The most surprising finding was how easy it was to lose calories by sleeping more. “We saw that after just a single sleep counseling session, participants could change their bedtime habits enough to lead to an increase in sleep duration,” researcher, Esra Tasali, of the University of Chicago Sleep Center, said in a statement. “We simply coached each individual on good sleep hygiene, and discussed their own personal sleep environments, providing tailored advice on changes they could make to improve their sleep duration.”

Tasali emphasizes that this was not a weight-loss study: Sleep was the only variable manipulated. Participants ate what they wanted and did nothing to measure their food intake. Their total calorie usage was tracked using the “doubly labeled water” method, considered the gold standard for measuring calories burned .

Though the study didn’t address specific factors that play a role in a person’s sleep behavior, limiting the use of electronic devices before bedtime seemed to be a key behavior change that resulted in more sleep.

The take-home message is that improving your bedtime routine so that you get at least seven hours of sleep could be a pretty painless way to shed unwanted pounds. It can’t hurt to try it.

The study is published in JAMA Internal Medicine.