Too Little Shut Eye and Weight Gain

August 31, 2011

Too little sleep may inhibit your decision making skills when it comes to choosing healthy foods and more. Find out what the study says here

Are you waking up early to get in a workout before you head to work, or vice versa and staying up late to get some extra exercise? Well there have been many studies linking our weight to the amount of time we sleep and the latest study found that those who got very little sleep ate more, but didn't burn any extra calories. The findings don’t exactly prove that lack of sleep causes people to pack on the pounds or how the relationship works, but we definitely do know that sleep should be a priority.

The study was conducted at the New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital where thirty men and women in their 30's and 40's, all of roughly normal weight, lived and slept in a research center during two different five-night periods.

During one of the visits, participants were allowed to sleep for nine hours and during the other, participants were only permitted four hours of sleep. During both sessions, they were fed a strict diet for the first four days and then were allowed to eat whatever they wanted on the fifth and final full day. Researchers found that regardless of which sleep schedule they were on, people burned a similar amount of calories - about 2,600 per day. But when sleep-deprived, people ate about 300 more calories on average compared to when they had been sleeping normally.
Clearly if that kept up, it would put the sleep-deprived at higher risk of gaining weight and obesity.

Researchers believe that there are a few possible explanations behind the link between sleep and eating. One is that sleep is important for the hormones that help control how much we eat. Another explanation is that when we're tired, we're less good at making healthy eating decisions. Too little shut-eye has also been tied to heart disease and diabetes, which have separate associations with sleep, complicating the picture even further.
The study can be found in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.