Losing Sleep & Gaining Weight: A Recent Study
I know that I eat more when I am tired. And somehow, I crave those sweet, gooey carbs. It gives me an energy boost, but then later I feel groggy.
Researchers have consistently found that adults who sleep too little are at greater risk of being overweight. There is some relationship between sleep deprivation and carbohydrate and sugar craving…
In a study at the University of Colorado, 16 healthy men and women participated in a two-week experiment, which tracked sleep, metabolism, and eating habits. Because subjects stayed in a special room, researchers were able to track precisely what they ate and their activity level.
During week one of the study, half the subjects were allowed to sleep 9 hours a night and the other half had to stay up late and could only sleep up to five hours. During week two, the 9-hour sleepers were restricted to 5 hours and sleep deprived group were allowed to sleep the extra four hours.
They were interested in studying how sleep deprivation over a short period would impact weight, behavior and physiology.
On the positive side, staying up late and sleeping less boosted the person’s metabolism. Sleep deprived subjects burned 111 more calories per day. But, the sleep-deprived individuals ate far more than the rested subjects, and in only one week, they gained an average of two pounds! When the subjects who were sleep deprived during the first week were able to sleep longer the second week, they lost some, but not all, of the weight gained during the sleep-deprived week.
Interestingly the sleep-deprived adults ate more after dinner, and had smaller breakfasts. When they returned to their well-rested week, their eating went back to a more normal rate. And yes, when they were tired, they ate more carbohydrates.
In my mind, the important part of this study is the immediate effects that sleep deprivation has on adults—increased consumption of calories without increasing activity level equals weight gain.
What does this mean? It reminds us of the importance of leaving adequate time for rest. I know that we are all too busy! And frequently, staying up late is a way to accomplish a few things on your to-do list. For other adults, it is the only time that we have time to ourselves. But then we suffer at the other end. And apparently, sleep deprivation results in weight gain. Weight gain can result in developing a sleep disorder, called obstructive sleep apnea, which results in further sleep deprivation, which, you guessed it, is probably going to result in more weight gain! Yuck!
Sridar Chalaka, M.D., is a pulmonologist and a sleep specialist at The Everett Clinic. He observes—“Although we don’t completely comprehend why we sleep, we are starting to get a better understanding of what happens to our bodies when we don’t get enough sleep, or good sleep. Several of the prominent physiologic ill-effects or consequences of insufficient sleep include diabetes, hypertension, obesity, depression and anxiety. I believe, in a nutshell, our bodies seem to age prematurely when we do not get enough good sleep! In addition, there is decreased quality of life, cognitive impairment, increased accident risk, prolonged medical illnesses, increased absenteeism and increased health care costs.”
Do you make enough time for sleep?