If you don’t get enough sleep, you may also eat too much — and thus be more likely to become obese.
That is the findings of researchers who presented their study at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2012 Scientific Sessions.
“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,” said Virend Somers, M.D., Ph.D., study author and professor of medicine and cardiovascular disease at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.. Leptin and ghrelin are associated with appetite.
The researchers studied 17 normal, healthy young men and women for eight nights, with half of the participants sleeping normally and half sleeping only two-thirds their normal time.
Participants ate as much as they wanted during the study.
“Sleep deprivation is a growing problem, with 28 percent of adults now reporting that they get six or fewer hours of sleep per night,” said Andrew D. Calvin, M.D., M.P.H., co-investigator, cardiology fellow and assistant professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic.
The researchers noted that while this study suggests sleep deprivation may be an important part and one preventable cause of weight gain and obesity, it was a small study conducted in a hospital’s clinical research unit.
“Larger studies of people in their home environments would help confirm our findings,” Calvin said.
Co-authors are Rickey E. Carter, Ph.D. and James A. Levine, M.D., Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, Minnesota Obesity Center and the Mayo Clinic .