Study shows less sleep leads to more eating and weight gain

March 11, 2013

March 11, 2013                        Kenneth Wright

Nearly two pounds in one week! That’s how much weight you can gain if you sleep five hours or less a night for a week, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder. But it’s not lack of sleep on its own that causes the weight gain, says researcher Kenneth Wright, it’s the fact that people tend to eat more while they’re awake.

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Study shows less sleep leads to more eating and weight gain

March 11, 2013                        Kenneth Wright

Nearly two pounds in one week! That’s how much weight you can gain if you sleep five hours or less a night for a week, according to a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder. But it’s not lack of sleep on its own that causes the weight gain, says researcher Kenneth Wright, it’s the fact that people tend to eat more while they’re awake.

CUT 1 “The key finding that came out of the study was that when people obtained insufficient sleep they ate more food and that is what led to weight gain.” (:12)

Staying awake burns more calories than going to sleep, but the amount of food study participants ate more than offset the extra calories used, Wright says. Getting less sleep also changed the kinds of food people ate and when they ate them.

CUT 2 “They tend to overeat carbohydrates. People tend to crave foods such as ice cream and chips rather than eating some more healthy choices such as grapes or yogurt, for example. (:14) People tend to overeat, also, at night. In fact, they ate more after dinner than they did any individual meal the entire day.” (:21)

Why sleep-deprived people eat foods high in carbohydrates is up for discussion, says Wright. But, he says, there’s a possibility it might be because the energy in carbohydrates is more easily accessible.

CUT 3 “It’s unclear why this shift occurs but it’s something that is consistent among studies that people tend to crave carbohydrates. (:09) And is that because, perhaps, the energy is more readily available from that type of food and people are craving that because they need more energy when they are staying awake longer? That’s a possibility.” (:15)

The study also shows that once people were able to catch up on their sleep, they reverted to eating healthier foods.

CUT 4 “But then, for five days after that, obtained adequate sleep, we found they actually reduced their intakes of both fats and carbohydrates. So getting adequate sleep led them to make healthier food choices. (:11)

The study, performed in collaboration with the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, suggests that sufficient sleep could help battle the obesity epidemic in developed countries, says Wright.

CUT 5 “And what our study shows is why sleep loss may also be a contributing factor to that problem. (:07) And so our results suggest that healthy sleep, getting adequate sleep, may assist people in maintaining their weight or losing their weight in such weight loss programs.” (:18)

For the study, researchers monitored 16 young, lean, healthy adults. They spent the first three days sleeping nine hours a night and eating controlled meals. Afterwards they were split into two groups: one that spent five days with only five hours to sleep and one that spent five days with nine hours of sleep opportunity. After the five-day period, the groups switched.

-CU-

 

 

 

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