Terrible news for night owls everywhere-a new study that has been published in the journal Sleep says if you go to bed late, you will gain weight, even if you are otherwise healthy and do not have a weight problem. Main researcher Andrea Spaeth performed a controlled study, which split groups into those who slept from 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and those who slept from 10:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. The seemingly unfortunate lot who stayed up until 4:00 a.m. ate more, and not only that; the food they ate was more fattening, meaning it was more calorie-dense and fat laden.
While previous studies have been done in this area, Spaeth and other researchers claim their study contained more subjects, and showed more weight gain. “Although previous epidemiological studies have suggested an association between short sleep duration and weight gain/obesity, we were surprised to observe significant weight gain during an in-laboratory study” Spaeth said. The study consisted of 225 people.
All of the study subjects were encouraged to be sedentary, that is, to avoid exercise, and they all had unlimited access to food during the duration of the study. There were some major differences, though, among several lines. Speath explained:
Among sleep-restricted subjects, there were also significant gender and race differences in weight gain. African Americans, who are at greater risk for obesity and more likely to be habitual short sleepers, may be more susceptible to weight gain in response to sleep restriction. Future studies should focus on identifying the behavioral and physiological mechanisms underlying this increased vulnerability.
Contrary to what the study might appear to prove at first glance, there was no magic reason why the late hours and lack of proper sleep caused more weight gain. The simple explanation is that people were hungry because they were awake longer, and therefore, ate more.
The comparison could be staying out late at night, dancing the night away, feeling starving at 3:00 a.m., piling into a friend’s car and heading to the diner for a big breakfast of pancakes, eggs, sausage and hash browns. The more activity you do, the hungrier you feel.
While a greater level of activity burns more calories, in the case of the study, the amount of food consumed superseded the amount of calories burned. Study subjects were also drawn to much fattier and calorie dense food than subjects who got the right amount of sleep. While researcher s did not offer a ready explanation for why the food consumed during the late night hours was more rich, a non-scientific observation could liken the sleep deprivation to any situation in which someone is drawn to comfort food. In this case, comfort food could sooth the pain of not getting enough good quality sleep.
Another possibility is that the extra activity could rev the metabolism and therefore cause more hunger than would normally be felt. While those examples are simply speculation, the study could certainly shed light on the extreme importance of getting the recommended eight hours of sleep rather than going to bed late when trying to manage weight gain.
By: Rebecca Savastio
Source: Medical News Today