The Vi­cious Cy­cle Of Sleep De­pri­va­tion And Overeat­ing


Los­ing sleep at night af­fects our be­hav­ior the next day in lots of ways, not the least of which is what we eat. Any­one who’s crammed a donut into their mouth to help them wake up af­ter a rough night can at­test to this phe­nom­e­non, but now we have a study to prove it. A new meta-anal­y­sis finds that par­tial sleep de­pri­va­tion—miss­ing a few hours of sleep per night—is linked to tak­ing in sig­nif­i­cantly more calo­ries the next day. And the big­ger is­sue might be that the con­nec­tion also seems to work the other way: Poor food choices dur­ing the day may af­fect how well we sleep. So it’s a bit of a vi­cious cy­cle we’re up against, and it seems to mainly be hap­pen­ing in the brain. The new study, in the Euro­pean Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal Nu­tri­tion, looked back at 11 smaller stud­ies, which to­gether in­cluded 172 peo­ple. The par­tic­i­pants were all de­prived of sleep to vary­ing de­grees for rel­a­tively short pe­ri­ods of time (one day to two weeks), and their calo­rie in­take the next day was mea­sured. It’s im­por­tant to point out that th­ese were all short-term stud­ies, so we don’t know how the re­sults might change over the long term.

Peo­ple who were sleep-de­prived con­sumed, on av­er­age, about 385 calo-


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