Enjoying more zzz’s is not usually associated with weight loss, but a growing number of epidemiological studies suggest that insufficient sleep may be linked to a greater risk of weight gain. The latest results from a study presented at the 2012 annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior points out that sleep behavior influences body weight by affecting not only how many calories we consume, but also how much energy we expend.
When researchers at Tübingen and Lübeck universities, in Germany, and Uppsala University, in Sweden, investigated the effect of short-term sleep deprivation on hunger, physical activity and energy levels, they discovered that insufficient sleep increased the participants’ sensations of hunger by raising the level of the “hunger hormone”, ghrelin. The less sleep a person had, the hungrier they felt. After only one night of disrupted sleep, the volunteers moved around less and burned off fewer calories in their resting state than their counterparts that enjoyed a good night’s sleep.