Can Too Little Sleep Cause Weight Gain?

January 10, 2014 in Our News & Bulletins by Integrity Rehab

Psychologist Michael Breus, PhD, makes this case in his new book “The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Lose Weight Through Better Sleep.” There is a well established correlation between reduced sleep hours and higher body mass index. Breus is one of many who say the relationship between low sleep and high weight is a causal relationship. His research suggests that low sleep causes the body to try to conserve energy stores to manage the longer awake periods. That slowdown causes the release of cortisol, a stress hormone that, as one effect, increases appetite. Sleep deprivation also triggers increased production of ghrelin (the hormone that signals hunger) and decreases release of leptin, the homrone that tells the body it is full. In short, sleep deprivation causes the body to demand more energy.

You can really see the problem when you take into account the latest sleep deprivation research out of the Colorado Nutrition Obesity Research Center. They found that sleep deprived people burn 2,600 calories per day, just like people with good sleep patterns. However, sleep deprived people averaged 300 more calories consumed per day. Only 3,500 calories causes a pound of weight gain. By that math, each month of poor sleep could add close to 6lbs to a person.

It appears that maintaining a healthy weight is just one more good reason to get a good night’s sleep.