Sleep deprivation could lead to weight gain of around one pound per week, according to the results of a new US study. The University of Colorado research took sixteen healthy adults and set half on a two week period of sleep deprivation – defined in this case as nightly sleep of no more than five hours – with the other half allowed to sleep up to nine hours per night for the same period. It was found that the sleep deprived group took on increased snack foods to compensate for their lack of energy, and gained an average of two pounds in weight over the course of the research.
The sleep deprived group were found to have used 5% more energy per day compared to the well-rested group, but consumed 6% more calories in response.
While there was a clear connection between an ‘unhealthy’ appetite and sleep deprivation, the amount of sleep that someone achieves was not believed by the researchers to be a ‘silver bullet’ in the fight against obesity, rather one of several healthy lifestyle choices that should be made together.
“I don’t think extra sleep by itself is going to lead to weight loss. Problems with weight gain and obesity are much more complex than that. But I think it could help,” commented Kenneth Wright, from the university’s Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory where the research was conducted. “If we can incorporate healthy sleep into weight-loss and weight-maintenance programmes our findings suggest that it may assist people to obtain a healthier weight.”
The results of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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