Researchers presented information to the American Heart Association suggesting that people who get less sleep are more likely to consume more calories.
Could this be a possible reason for weight gain during times of stress?
The researchers studies 17 men and women for 8 nights with half of the group sleeping normally and the other half sleeping only two thirds of their normal sleeping time. Food was provided for participants to eat whenever they felt like it.
The researchers specifically looked at the activity of two hormones: ghrelin and leptin. Both are known to play a very important role in appetite control.
Here is a direct quote from Virend Somers, MD,PhD – the study author and professor of Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease at the Mayo Clinic.
“We tested whether lack of sleep altered the levels of the hormones leptin and ghrelin, increased the amount of food people ate, and affected energy burned through activity,”
Here are the results they obtained:
- Group 2 (sleep deprived) slept on average 1 hour and 20 minutes less than the control group and ingested on average 549 calories more per day.
- Metabolic activity didn’t change much between the two groups suggesting that neither one was burning more calories.
- Leptin levels rose and ghrelin levels fell in group 2
The researchers noted that they believe sleep deprivation could be a cause of obesity. If this is true it could explain the obesity epidemic as sleep deprivation is a growing problems with 28% of adults in the USA reporting that they get 6 hours or less of sleep per day.
Some sleep aids do exist to help people fall asleep and fall into a deeper sleep, for example, there are products such as:
- MyProtein’s Sleepmax – contains 5-HTP which has been shown to help people fall asleep.
- ZMA – a mixture of zinc and magnesium that people use to help them fall asleep.
- Over the counter remedies such as nytol – which are not a long-term solution and should not be used for too long.
- Melatonin has been shown to help induce sleep but carries it’s own side effects – Melatonin Inhibits Steroidogenesis
- People on growth hormone replacement therapy or using growth hormone secretagoguges experience deeper and more restful sleep as growth hormone promotes slow wave sleep.
The research does suggest that sleep can affect weight loss; people who sleep less and are eating 549 calories more per day will gain weight faster than those who sleep normally. One lbs of fat is roughly 3,500 calories, if you’re eating 549 calories per day then you’re consuming over 3,500 calories per week and are likely to increase your bodyfat for the entire duration of your bad sleep pattern.