RSSIs lack of sleep making you fat?

Posted on Sun, 28 Jun 09

Is lack of sleep making you fat?

Lack of adequate, refreshing sleep is emerging as a major risk factor for chronic disease such as overweight and obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease [1]. Increased appetite and cravings for sweet foods may be one way poor quality sleep increases disease risk. In the January 2009 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition researchers found that restricting peoples sleep time from 8.5 hours to 5.5 hours a night made them hungrier, in particular for sugary snacks [2].

This finding is similar to a previous report where just 2 nights of sleep restriction to 4 hours a night resulted in a 30% greater desire for high calorie foods, such as cake and potatoes [3]. Such an increase in calorie intake would relate to an excess 350–500 calories a day, which could increase weight gain and lead to the development of obesity.

Poor sleep patterns and insomnia are becoming increasingly common with insomnia estimated to affect up to 1 in 3 people. This increase in sleep disorders coincides with an increasing prevalence of obesity suggesting that healthy sleep patterns may help prevent weight gain and obesity and may even promote weight loss [4].


1. Trenell MI, Marshall NS, Rogers NL. Sleep and metabolic control: waking to a problem? Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2007 Jan-Feb;34(1-2):1-9.

2. Nedeltcheva AV et al. Sleep curtailment is accompanied by increased intake of calories from snacks.Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jan;89(1):126-33.

3. Spiegel K et al. Brief communication: Sleep curtailment in healthy young men is associated with decreased leptin levels, elevated ghrelin levels, and increased hunger and appetite.Ann Intern Med. 2004 Dec 7;141(11):846-50.

4. Knutson KL, Van Cauter E. Associations between sleep loss and increased risk of obesity and diabetes. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008;1129:287-304.

Image: Jason Kelvin. Science Photo Library.

Tags: Overweight, Obesity, Insomnia, Sleep, Appetite, Cravings

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