Experiment Confirms: Less Sleep = More Weight

Midnight Snacking in Front of a Fridge

photo: blog.frankiefoto.com

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?

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  • Jes

    This seems to be a question of cause and effect. Is the cause of weight gain due to the fact that the sleep deprived at more, ate later at night, or a combination? There are too many variables that were not defined specifically enough to say it was the time of consumption.

  • Kim

    My co-worker and I figured this out years ago. When either of us didn’t sleep well the night before, we were starving at our coffee break. I could see how if you didn’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, the pounds could add up.