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Gaining Weight? You May Need More Sleep
A new study finds that denying yourself zzzs may make you eat more.
By Melissa Romero
Comments () | Published March 16, 2012
Tired? A lack of sleep can lead to overeating and weight gain. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Ev0luti0nary.

We already know that lack of sleep can lead to poor productivity at work, increased risk of heart attacks, and even early death. Now, you can add weight gain to the list.

In a study presented at an American Heart Association event in San Diego, researchers found that sleep deprivation can lead to overeating, thus overtime increasing one's likelihood of becoming obese.

Researchers studied 17 healthy men and women for eight nights. Half of the participants slept normally, while the other half were only able to snooze for two-thirds of their usual amount. They ended up sleeping one hour and 20 minutes less than the control group.

Each day, all the participants were able to eat as much as they wanted. Researchers found that the sleep-deprived group ended up consuming 549 more calories every day.

Despite the extra time spent awake, the group's activity levels didn't change, so they didn't burn any more calories than usual. And as we all know, consuming more calories than you burn leads to weight gain.

Almost 30 percent of adults get less than six hours of sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), while only 31 percent of high school students get at least eight hours of sleep. It's recommended that adults get 8 hours of sleep and children 10 to 11 hours.

The study's researchers noted that while the findings suggest getting enough sleep is a preventable cause of obesity, larger studies are needed to help confirm their findings.

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  • Thanks for sharing this study, Melissa. I know I tend to crave grain carbs, which I'm trying to limit, when I haven't had enough sleep.

    Apparently, lack of sleep stimulates Cortisol, the stress hormone that causes us to store fat around the middle too. Robb Wolf explains this well in his book, "The Paleo Solution."

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