Lack of Sleep Leads to Excess Calories

Lack of Sleep Leads to Excess Calories

Recent research from King's College shows that not getting enough sleep can make you eat more calories than you burn.

Quite a lot more.

On average, a whopping 385 calories, that would take most people more than an hour of pretty intense exercise to burn off. And would be enough for an extra lunch - not what you want if you're trying to keep your weight under control.

If it happened every day, that's more than enough calories to put on over half a pound a week. The researchers found no significant increase in energy expenditure in the sleep deprived. So, weight gain is an almost inevitable outcome.

There’s a body of evidence building up showing that sleep, or rather lack of it, can lead to weight gain. For an in depth look at the evidence see Dr Usman’s article Sleep and Weight Loss.

For the Kings College study, researchers reviewed and analysed the results of 11 studies involving 172 participants.

The amount of sleep restriction varied between the studies. Sleep deprived participants sleeping between three and a half and five and a half hours a night.

"The main cause of obesity is an imbalance between calorie intake and expenditure and this studyadds to accumulating evidence that sleep deprivation could contribute to this imbalance."

Says Dr Gerda Pot, senior author from the Diabetes & Nutritional Sciences Division at King's College London.

"So there may be some truth in the saying 'early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy and wise".

The researchers also found there was a small shift in the types of food sleep deprived people ate.They had higher fat and lower protein intakes, but no change in carbohydrate intake.

A previous small study in 26 adults found partial sleep deprivation resulted in greater activation of areas in the brain associated with reward when people were exposed to food.

A greater motivation to seek food could be an explanation for the increased food intake seen insleep deprived people in this study, the authors suggest.

Other possible explanations include a disruption of the internal body clock affecting the body's regulation of leptin (the 'satiety' hormone) and ghrelin (the 'hunger' hormone).

"Our results highlight sleep as a potential third factor, in addition to diet and exercise, to target weight gain more effectively." Said lead author Haya Al Khatib, PhD candidate at King's College London.

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