There may be some truth to the saying 'early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy and wise'. According to a new review, being sleep deprived can cause people to consume more calories the following day.
The study, conducted by researchers at King's College London, combined the results of 11 trials with a total of 172 participants. The analysis included studies that compared a partial sleep restriction with unrestricted sleep and measured participants’ calorie intake over the next 24 hours.
The amount of sleep restriction varied between the studies, with the sleep-deprived participants sleeping between three and a half and five and a half hours in the night. The control subjects spent between seven and 12 hours sleeping.
Sleep-deprived participants ate almost 400 extra calories the next day
The researchers found that sleep-deprived people ate an extra 385 calories per day, equivalent to the calories in about four and a half slices of bread.
The researchers also found there was a small shift in what sleep-deprived people ate – more fat and less protein, but no change in carbohydrate intake.
Partial sleep deprivation did not have a significant effect on how many calories people burned the next day.
If long-term sleep deprivation continues to result in an increased calorie intake, it can contribute to weight gain.
More research is needed to investigate the importance of long-term, partial sleep deprivation as a risk factor for obesity and whether sleep extension could play a role in obesity prevention.
A previous small study in adults found that partial sleep deprivation caused greater activation of areas in the brain associated with reward when people were exposed to food. A greater motivation to seek food could be an explanation for the increased food intake seen in sleep deprived people.
Other possible explanations include a disruption of the internal body clock affecting the body's regulation of appetite-related hormones.
More intervention studies are needed to look at the effect of increased sleep duration over longer periods in everyday life on weight gain and obesity. Most of the studies included in this analysis were conducted in controlled laboratory conditions over periods of one day to two weeks.
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