WESTCHESTER, Ill. – According to a research abstract that will be presented on Monday, June 8 at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, in the presence of free access to food, sleep restricted subjects reported decrease in appetite, food cravings and food consumption; however, they gained weight over the course of the study. Thus, the finding suggests that energy intake exceeded energy expenditure during the sleep restriction
Results indicate that people whose sleep was restricted experienced an average weight gain of 1.31 kilograms over the 11 days of the study. Of the subjects with restricted sleep who reported a change in their appetite and food consumption, more than 70 percent said that it decreased by day 5 of the study. A group of well rested control subjects did not experience the weight gain.
According to lead investigator Siobhan Banks, PhD, a research fellow at the University of South Australia and former assistant research professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, it was surprising that participants did not crave foods rich in carbohydrates after sleep restriction, as previous research suggested they might. Results indicate that even though physiologically the desire to eat was not increased by sleep loss in participants, other factors such as the sedentary environment of the laboratory and the ability to snack for longer due to reduction in time spent asleep might have influenced the weight gain.
This result is consistent with other research which finds a link between lack of sleep and weight gain. This relationship might be due to the simple result that if you are awake more hours you have more time to think about food and eat. However, the lack of sleep could be boosting appetite by increasing levels of the hormone ghrelin while lowering the hormone leptin.
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