If you don’t sleep well, you may end up eating more. New research has found that sleep-deprived people eat an average of 385 more calories a day than those who get a good night’s rest.
Scientists at King’s College in England analyzed 11 earlier studies involving 172 participants whose sleep habits ranged from less than four hours to 12 hours a night. Those who stayed awake the longest didn’t expend much more energy the following day than regular sleepers did. And because they ate more during those extra waking hours, their calorie counts grew.
The deprived sleepers also changed their eating habits slightly, taking in more protein, less fat and about the same amount of carbohydrates.
All of this could lend some truth to the idea that early to bed and early to rise makes a person heathy, if not wealthy and wise. The researchers noted that their study adds to accumulating evidence that sleep deprivation contributes to the imbalance between calorie intake and expenditure that is a main cause of obesity.
Along with diet and exercise, sleep is a potential third factor to target weight gain more effectively. The researchers are now conducting a randomized trial of habitually short sleepers to more fully explore the possible relationship between longer sleep times and weight-gain indicators.
One possible explanation for the apparent relationship between sleep deprivation and weight gain is how the body’s internal “clock” affects hormones that create feelings of hunger or fullness.
While the researchers say more study is needed, common sense can help. If you’re staying awake a lot more, stay out of the kitchen.