Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sleep Deprivation and Appetite

Another article about how sleep-deprived individuals consume more calories. This is from the USA Today about findings in a study reported at the American Heart Association meeting in Atlanta. This study had 26 people who usually slept 7-9 hours per night. They had the patients sleep in a monitored room for six nights. Half of the patients slept 4 hours per night and the other slept for 9 hours per night. I don't know how or why they chose those specific hours. I am also unclear if they used a control sample during this study.

For the first days, they received a portion-controlled diet, but the last two days they could eat as much as they wanted from food they chose themselves. The results showed that patients consumed an average of 296 calories more when they were sleep-deprived compared with when they were well-rested. Overall, most of the extra calories came from high-fat foods such as ice cream and fast foods.

In the USA Today article, the reporters interviewed scientists about the study results. Reasons for overeating include possible hormonal changes that control appetite. This appetite increase, along with being too tired to exercise, could lead to weight gain in sleep-deprived people.

As I have said in other posts, sleep-deprivation does not cause obesity. It could have a contributing role. I understand the interest in these findings - after all, it could mean that overweight patients would only have to sleep a little longer to lose weight. If only it was that easy. In my opinion, weight gain is caused by eating too much and exercising too little.

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