Poor sleep linked to overeating, weight gain

Woman sleeping in bed at night

It seems more sleep experts are drawing a parallel between sleep quality and obesity. According to research out of the University of Colorado Boulder, less sleep may be associated with unhealthy eating and weight gain.

Wavebreak Media

A recent CU-Boulder study monitored the sleep and eating habits of 16 young, healthy adults who volunteered to live in a “sleep suite” for about two weeks. Upon beginning the study, they were all given the opportunity to sleep nine hours each night, eating only sensible meals designed for individual weight and calorie intake. After several days, participants were offered larger meals and snacks, but with altered sleep schedules (one group continued with nine hours of sleep, while the other was allowed just five). Then the groups switched after five days. According to researchers, the five-hour group burned five percent more energy than the nine-hour group, but consumed six percent more calories. They also gained almost two pounds over the five-day period. “[W]hen people switched from a week of five hours per night sleep opportunity to a week of nine hours per night sleep opportunity, they selected a healthy diet consuming less fat and carbohydrates,” said Kenneth Wright, the study’s lead author and director of CU-Boulder’s Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory. Wright chalks this up partly to nighttime overeating in sleep-restricted people, which was consistently observed. According to the study, this group continued to snack after dinner during their biological nighttime, when physiologically, the body is not designed to be taking in food. “Insufficient sleep led to a change in the timing of the internal circadian clock'” said Wright. “Our findings suggest that altered circadian timing may contribute to the negative health outcomes reported to be associated with short sleep schedules.”  By Marianne Hayes

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