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Tip 143: Get Enough Sleep to Stay Lean: Exhaustion Can Lead to 300-Calorie Increase A Day

Thursday, August 4, 2011 6:00 AM
Get enough sleep to stay lean, and decrease diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk. Sleep deprivation has been linked to obesity and weight gain without a conclusive cause, and knew research tells why. A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that individuals who are sleep deprived eat more overall and consume more fat, notably saturated fat. Take note that this study is based on data gathered from individuals who suffer a limited number of short sleep nights; they are not chronically sleep deprived, as many people are.

Sleep deprivation is increasingly prevalent in both adults and children. In fact, in a review of research data, it was found that 58 percent of children with shorter sleep duration were overweight, and 92 percent of children with the shortest sleep duration were overweight. Weight gain in women who were sleep deprived was evidenced as well, but not as dramatically as in children. Possible causes for this tendency to be overweight include elevated cortisol levels, decreased growth hormone and melatonin levels, and impaired glucose tolerance. Lack of sleep has also been linked to diabetes, breast cancer, and heart disease. 

In this new study, researchers used a population that was not overweight and analyzed their food intake following short sleep of four hours a night versus habitual sleep of nine hours. Women had a 15.2 percent increase in energy intake following short sleep relative to habitual sleep and men had a 9.2 percent increase. Women increased their fat and saturated fat consumption by 39 percent and 61 percent, respectively, compared with 10.3 percent and 9.6 percent for men. Protein intake also increased for both groups, while carbohydrates were not affected. Both men and women burned less calories following short sleep than habitual sleep, yet they ate an average of 300 calories more.
Lack of sleep was significantly linked to increased energy and fat intake with no increase in energy expenditure. Over the long term, this behavior will quickly lead to weight gain and obesity: an excess of 300 calories a day will result in gaining more than two pounds a month if it is sustained.  So how can you improve your sleep? Check out this article for supplements to give you sweet dreams.

For more about behavioral strategies to sleep better, read Top Ten Tips for Increasing Sleep Quantity and Quality.

St-Onge, M., Roberts, A., Chen, J., Kelleman, M., O-Keeffe, M.,  Choudhury, R., Jones, P. Short Sleep Duration Increases Energy Intakes but Does not Change Energy Expenditure in Normal-Weight Individuals. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2011. 94, 410-416.

Chen, X., Beydoun, M., Wang, Y. Is Sleep Duration Associated with Childhood Obesity? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Obesity. 2008. 16, 265-274.
Patel, S., Malhortra, A., White, D., Gottlieb, D., Hu, F. Association Between Reduced Sleep and Weight Gain in Women. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2006. 164, 947-954.

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