November 21, 2016
2 min read

Less sleep tied to more weight gain

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Spending fewer hours in bed could result in overeating the next day, which in turn could cause weight gain, according to research findings published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

“We aimed to systematically review and meta-analyze the effects of [partial sleep deprivation] on components of the energy balance equation including [energy intake] and total [energy expenditure], as well as macronutrient distribution and resting metabolic rate in comparison with habitual sleep in healthy adults,” Haya Al Khatib, PhD candidate, School of Life Sciences and Medicine, King’s College London, and colleagues wrote.

Khatib and colleagues analyzed 11 studies including 172 participants. Control participants spent between 7 and 12 hours in bed, while noncontrols were in bed between 3.5 and 5.5 hours. The longest length of time any participant was studied was 2 weeks.

According to researchers, the partial sleep deprivation group had an increased energy intake of 385 kcal (P < .00001) when compared with the control group. Most of energy intake was attributable to lower protein and higher fat consumption, and there was no effect on carbohydrate consumption in the studies. There was also no significant change in resting metabolic rate or total energy expenditure as a result of the partial sleep deprivation, which over long periods of time could cause weight gain.

“The main cause of obesity is an imbalance between calorie intake and expenditure, and this study adds to accumulating evidence that sleep deprivation could contribute to this imbalance. So, there may be some truth in the saying 'early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy and wise,’ ” Gerda Pot, BSc, MSc, PhD, lecturer, division of diabetes and nutritional sciences, King’s College London, said in a press release.

“Our results highlight sleep as a potential third factor, in addition to diet and exercise, to target weight gain more effectively. We are currently conducting a randomized controlled trial in habitually short sleepers to explore the effects of sleep extension on indicators of weight gain,” Khatib said in the press release. – by Janel Miller

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.