The Link Between Insufficient Sleep and Weight Gain: Understanding the Role of Energy Balance

Used when an article is explaining a scientific research study

This is a summary of the research article:Impact of insufficient sleep on total daily energy expenditure, food intake, and weight gain

This study aimed to understand how not getting enough sleep affects our energy levels and body weight. Sixteen adults participated in a 14- to 15-day study where they had either sufficient or insufficient sleep for five consecutive days, which is similar to a work week. The researchers examined the effects of insufficient sleep on energy expenditure (the calories we burn), energy intake (the calories we consume), and weight gain.

They discovered that insufficient sleep increased total daily energy expenditure by around 5%. However, participants consumed more energy than needed, particularly during nighttime after dinner. Despite changes in hunger and satiety hormones, such as ghrelin, leptin, and peptide YY, which typically signal that we have enough energy stored, insufficient sleep resulted in weight gain of approximately 0.82 kg.

Interestingly, insufficient sleep disrupted the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, including a delay in the release of the sleep hormone melatonin and an earlier wake-up time. Moreover, there were differences between men and women. Women tended to maintain their weight with sufficient sleep, but insufficient sleep reduced their ability to control their food intake, leading to weight gain.

However, when participants transitioned from insufficient sleep to adequate/recovery sleep, their energy intake decreased, especially for fats and carbohydrates, and they experienced a small weight loss of around 0.03 kg.

These findings highlight the significant role that sleep plays in our body’s energy balance. Insufficient sleep not only affects our physiological processes but also influences our eating behaviors, potentially contributing to overweight and obesity.

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