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Just One Night of Poor Sleep Slows Down Metabolism, Leads To Weight Gain

If you are putting on weight, try counting your hours of sleep as well as your calories.

According to scientists, just one night of sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain.

It slows down the body’s metabolism the next morning – meaning less energy, in the form of calories, is burnt off.

Previous studies have linked sleep deprivation with an increase in hunger-related hormones during waking hours.   

Christian Benedict, who led the research at Uppsala University in Sweden, said: ‘Our findings show that one night of sleep deprivation acutely reduces energy expenditure in healthy men, which suggests sleep contributes to the acute regulation of daytime energy expenditure in humans.’

He and his colleagues put 14 male students through a series of sleep ‘conditions’ – curtailed sleep, no sleep, and normal sleep – over several days, then measured changes in how much they ate, their blood sugar, hormone levels and metabolic rate.

Even a single night of missed sleep slowed metabolism the next morning, reducing energy expenditure for tasks such as breathing and digestion by between 5 and 20 per cent.

The young men also had higher morning levels of blood sugar, appetite-regulating hormones such as ghrelin, and stress hormones such as cortisol after sleep disruption. The sleep loss did not however boost the amount of food consumed during the day.

He and his colleagues put 14 male students through a series of sleep ‘conditions’ – curtailed sleep, no sleep, and normal sleep – over several days, then measured changes in how much they ate, their blood sugar, hormone levels and metabolic rate.

Even a single night of missed sleep slowed metabolism the next morning, reducing energy expenditure for tasks such as breathing and digestion by between 5 and 20 per cent.

The young men also had higher morning levels of blood sugar, appetite-regulating hormones such as ghrelin, and stress hormones such as cortisol after sleep disruption. The sleep loss did not however boost the amount of food consumed during the day.

A number of studies have observed that people who sleep for five hours or less are more prone to weight gain and weigh-related diseases such as type-2 diabetes. But those studies do not prove that sleep loss causes weight gain.   

Experts said that factors such as lifestyle and diet might add to obesity risks and that it was not clear that sleep deprivation led to obesity.    

Sanford Auerbach, head of the Sleep Disorders Center at Boston Medical Centre, pointed out that sleep deprivation is a complex issue, with medication and other issues influencing sleep as well, and urged that the new findings be kept in context.   

‘They showed that we adapt to sleep deprivation and that some of these adaptations could theoretically contribute to obesity,’ he said, adding that it’s not clear how chronic sleep loss influences hormone levels.   

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.


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