19 March 2013 Not Getting Enough Sleep Can Cause Weight Gain

Stretching yourself too thin? If you don‘t sleep enough, you could be setting yourself up for weight gain. A new study from CU-Boulder shows that when folks are restricted to sleeping only 5 hours a night, they end up eating more calories than they burn, which in turn causes them to gain weight.

Interesting Findings

  • Excess calories were consumed primarily at night, after dinner.
  • Weight gain occurred despite the fact that being awake for more hours increased total calories burned by 5%.
  • We eat to stay alert when sleep deprived and simply overshoot the small increase in calories burned from being awake for longer.
  • When folks moved from sleep deprivation to adequate/recovery sleep, they lost a small amount of the weight previously gained by consuming fewer calories from fat and carbs.
  • Women appear to be particularly susceptible to weight gain with inadequate sleep.

Tips for Getting More Sleep

The National Sleep Foundation recommends controlling our “sleep environment” so that we can get more restful sleep.

Noise. Create white noise to help block out sounds that keep you up: run a fan or buy an alarm clock that has a white noise feature. Consider wearing ear plugs.

Temperature. Find your sweet spot somewhere between 54F – 75F to avoid getting too cold or too hot.

Light. Get bright light during the day but minimize it in the evening. Use a dim night light if you get up in the middle of the night.

Sleep surface. Get a good mattress or sleeping surface so you are not contorted or wake up in pain.

Snoring. If you snore so loudly that no one can sleep anywhere near you, then it is time for a sleep apnea test to see if you are getting enough oxygen during the night. If you sleep beside someone who snores and it keeps you up, make them get a sleep test!

Power down. No TVs, computers, or work in the bedroom.

You might want to think about how to shift your downtime or “me time” to earlier in the evening. Perhaps something in your schedule can change to make more time for sleep. Prioritize sleep for your health and weight and you will find the time!

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


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