June 8, 2009

Sleep deprived can gain weight quickly

Researchers in Australia say they found people whose sleep was restricted experienced an average weight gain of almost 3 pounds during the 11-day study.

Lead investigator Siobhan Banks of the University of South Australia, formerly of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, says it was surprising that study participants did not crave foods rich in carbohydrates after sleep restriction, as previous research suggested.

The study results indicate that even though physiologically the desire to eat was not increased by sleep loss in participants, other factors -- such as the sedentary environment of the laboratory and the ability to snack for longer due to reduction in time spent asleep -- might have influenced the weight gain.

During real-world periods of sleep restriction -- such as shift work -- people should plan their calorie intake over the time they will be awake, eating small, healthy meals, Banks said in a statement.

The study involved 92 healthy people ages 22-45 who underwent two nights of baseline sleep -- 10 hours in bed per night -- five nights of sleep restriction and varying recovery for four nights. Nine well rested participants served as controls.

Subjects had three regular meals per day and access to healthy snacks and a small sandwich.

The findings were presented at Sleep, the 23rd annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Seattle.