Surprisingly, the answer is yes. If you don’t get enough sleep, you are likely eating more than 500 extra calories a day. This adds up to a pound a week of weight gain. So, if you are not getting enough sleep, you’re putting yourself on the pathway to obesity.
A study followed healthy men and women who were studied for eight consecutive nights. The group was divided into two groups. One group slept normally. The other only got ⅔ of their normal amount of sleep. All participants were allowed to eat as much as the liked. There was not a restriction on calories or diet. Researchers found that the sleep deprived group slept about 90 minutes less than the control group, and they ate nearly 550 extra calories a day. Even though they were awake more, the sleep-deprived group burned the same amount of calories, indicating that the extra hours were not very active.
Lack of sleep affects the hormones associated with appetite and weight gain. Lack of sleep raises a hormone call leptin, which makes you hungry, and decreases the hormone ghrelin, which signals fullness. In total, both of these changes are likely to be the cause of the observed overeating. So, the first step in any effective weight loss program should be to make sure that you get enough sleep. Lack of sleep is a major problem in the U.S. today. Nearly 3 in 10 adults report that they get less than 6 hours of sleep per night.
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