Lack of sleep can slow metabolism

May 17, 2011 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Weight Management

Lack of sleep can slow metabolism
New study findings published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition report that sleep can slow down metabolism, causing the body to use less energy.

This isn't the first study to have linked lack of sleep with weight gain. Previous studies have shown impaired sleep disrupts levels of stress- and hunger-related hormones during waking hours.

In the study, researchers compared the effect of regular sleep (8 hours) and one night of total sleep deprivation on the body's energy expenditure (calorie burning) the next morning in healthy young men.

Compared with normal sleep, resting metabolic rate was significantly reduced after sleep deprivation.  (Resting metabolic rate is the energy required to keep your body functioning including your lungs breathing and your heart beating while at rest. As much as 75% of your daily calorie burning is attributed to your resting metabolic rate.)

As well, after eating breakfast calories burned to digest food was 20% lower when sleep deprived versus rested.

Participants reported greater hunger and had higher blood levels of a hunger hormone called ghrelin the morning after a night without sleep. (Ghrelin is produced by the stomach and stimulates appetite and eating.)

Compared to normal sleep, men had a higher blood sugar (glucose) level after eating breakfast when sleep deprived, suggesting the body is less effective at clearing glucose from the bloodstream after sleep loss.

Lack of sleep also caused higher levels of cortisol - a stress hormone - the following day. Higher and prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream has been associated with a number of negative health effects including impaired blood sugar control, high blood pressure, lowered immunity and abdominal obesity.

The researchers speculate that chronic sleep loss can trigger weight gain by upsetting hormones that regulate calorie burning in the body.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.