USA TODAY US Edition
People who need sleep grab food
Rest-deprived consume 300 more calories a day
When sleep-deprived, people consume almost 300 calories a day more than when they are wellrested. And ice cream is one of their favorite foods when they’re tired, a study shows.
Scientists have known for years that too little sleep can lead to weight gain and obesity.
So researchers at Columbia University decided to find out whether people actually consume more when they are sleep-deprived vs. well-rested.
They recruited 26 normal-weight men and women who routinely slept seven to nine hours a night. They came into an inpatient-hospital-like setting for six days on two different occasions. Half slept four hours a night for six nights. The other half slept for nine hours a night for six nights.
At first they got a portion-controlled diet, but the last two days they could eat as much as they wanted. The entire procedure was repeated with people getting a different amount of sleep.
Findings, reported Wednesday at an American Heart Association meeting in Atlanta:
-Participants consumed an average of 296 calories more when sleep-deprived compared with when well-rested.
-Most of the extra calories came from high-fat foods such as ice cream and fast foods. “Ice cream stood out as the preferred food during the sleepdeprived state,” says lead author Marie-Pierre St-Onge, assistant professor of clinical nutrition medicine at Columbia. “Sleep deprivation makes you more susceptible to overeating.” Other studies show that sleepdeprived people have higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger, and lower levels of leptin, a fullness hormone, than people who are well-rested.
Gina Lundberg, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association and a preventive cardiologist in Atlanta, says sleep deprivation may provide a “double whammy” for weight gain — that is, people not only eat more when they’re tired but also may be less likely to exercise.
The higher calorie and fat intake and being less active could be bad for your heart over the long term, she adds.