Sleep Restriction Revealed to be Cause of Weight Gain in Healthy Adults
A recently published study shows that adults who suffer from chronic sleep restriction are more susceptible to gaining weight due to an increased calorie consumption during night hours. The study is one of the largest and most diverse study regarding healthy patients with bad sleeping habits and who suffer from sleep restrictions. According to the results, patients who slept for only 4 hours every night, for 5 consecutive nights experienced a higher weight gain than patients who slept for 10 hours every night.
Researchers report that the higher weight gain for the patients who were experiencing sleep restrictions is due to the fact that they had a higher calorie intake during the additional hours of wakefulness. Moreover, the calorie consumption derived from fat was higher during night hours, compared to that of day time meals. The author of the study, Andrea Spaeth, reports that although precedent studies have already shown that sleep deprivation is linked to weight gain, the results of her study show that even in laboratory conditions, the results were similar.
The study, set to be published in the July edition of the journal Sleep, was conducted in a laboratory from the University Hospital of Pennsylvania. Researchers examined a group of 225 healthy subjects, between the ages of 22 and 50, which were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first group consisted of patients who were to be deprived of sleep, while the other group consisted of patients who received a normal amount of sleep. The study span over a period of 18 days.
The subjects received meals at pre-scheduled hours, while additional food was available in the kitchen for the subjects who wanted to eat more than just the pre-scheduled meals. Subjects were not allowed to exercise during the testing period. Sedentary activities, such as reading, playing video games and watching TV were permitted. The study also reports that male subjects gained more weight due to sleep deprivation, when compared to female subjects. Another observation made by the research team is that Africa American subjects also gained more weight than Caucasian subjects.
According to Spaeth, the results showed significant differences between races and genders, regarding weight gain, when patients were deprived of sleep. She also notes that African Americans are more susceptible to weight gain due to the fact that they are more likely to suffer from sleep deprivation outside laboratory conditions as well. Spaeth reports that further studies regarding the behavioral and psychological mechanisms involved in this susceptibility should be conducted in order to better understand the causes.
The AASM (American Academy of Sleep Medicine) declares that weight gain is one of the most important risk factors for OSA (obstructive sleep apnea). OSA is a common disorder with a large impact on the quality of life of the affected patients. The risk of OSA gradually increases with weight gain, reaching the highest prevalence between patients suffering from morbid obesity. Earlier this week, AASM supported the new policy of the AMA (American Medical Association), which recognizes obesity as a medical disorder.