A doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania, Andrea Spaeth, conducted a very interesting experiment involving 225 people, a sleep lab, and food. Her findings may provide an explanation to something we intuitively know – late night snacking leads to weight gain.
Healthy, non-obese adults were randomly divided into 2 groups. One group slept 4 hours a night, and the other was allotted 10 hours. The differences in food behavior between the two groups was immediate. Both groups were served regular meals, but they also had access to a “well stocked” kitchen at all times.The experiment was run in smaller groups and lasted 5-18 days.
Results: the sleep deprived ate more, especially in the late night hours. As a result they started to gain weight. They tended to eat more fatty foods during their midnight kitchen forays. Interestingly, the men gained more weight than women. And African-Americans gained weight more rapidly than Caucasians.
What can we learn?
- The more you sleep, the less opportunities you have for unplanned eating
- A good weight loss plan should include healthy sleep. Current scientific recommendations are 7-9 hours a night.
Are you getting enough hours of sleep every night?
How do you combat late night munchies?