Can a lack of sleep really make you fat? Well, it in itself may not make you pile on the pounds, but it can have a direct influence on your desire to eat more. Sleeping for even an hour less a day can cause people to eat more.
Researchers at Penn State University College of Medicine looked at the sleep patterns of 342 teenagers and found that, on average, they slept seven hours a night. When this amount of sleep varied, however, they ate about 201 extra calories a day.
Now, what may be even more surprising than this is that it wasn’t only when they slept less that they ate more – if they slept more they also ate more.
Lead author Fan He explained, “According to the data from our study, it’s not how long you sleep that matters. It’s about day-to-day variations in how long you sleep.’
This study could have earth-shattering implications. It’s the first to objectively measure teenager sleeping patterns and physical activity in conjunction with eating habits in the real world, rather than under laboratory conditions.
One explanation that researchers offered is that when teenagers get less sleep, they are more sedentary the next day. And this can lead to snacking. Another idea is that shifts in sleep patterns result in hormonal imbalances which can cause teenagers to eat more.
Another important point is that Leptin works to decrease the appetite, but a lack of sleep causes these levels to go down and to signal to the brain to eat.
Dr Fe said “These findings could help us better understand how obesity develops among young people.”