Lack of sleep leads to weight gain, say scientists

Dieters could be struggling to shift the excess pounds because of a lack of sleep, researchers have claimed. In fact, scientists claim not getting enough shut eye could actually cause you to put on weight.

Lack of sleep could lead to weight gain

Pic: Corbis

In a new study, scientists found that those who slept for just five hours each night gained two pounds in just one week. The reason? Late night snacking.

Research at Colorado Boulder University revealed that sleep deprivation caused the participants in the study to consume more after-dinner snacks and, teamed with the slower metabolism associated with lack of sleep, quickly gained weight.

However, when the same volunteers shifted to an adequate sleep pattern, the amount of fats and carbs in their diet reduced and the extra pounds came off.

The 16 participants, all healthy young adults, were split into two groups, one surviving on five hours sleep a night, the other enjoying nine hours.

Both groups were given access to the same meals and snack options throughout each day, and switched sleep patterns after a five-day period.

The results of the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggested that while those who stayed awake for longer burned five per cent more energy than those slumbering for nine hours a night, they consumed six per cent more calories, with evening snacks totalling more calories than those of any individual meal eaten during the day.

Professor Ken Wright, who led the study, admitted that further research was necessary, but said: "I don't think extra sleep by itself is going to lead to weight loss.

"Problems with weight gain and obesity are much more complex than that. But I think it could help.

"If we can incorporate healthy sleep into weight loss and weight maintenance programmes, our findings suggest it may assist people to obtain a healthier weight."

What do you think? Is when we eat as important as what we eat? Leave your comments below...