Losing Sleep Can Lead to Weight Gain

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 19 2013 1:12 PM

Losing Sleep for a Week Can Lead to Weight Gain

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Go ahead and sleep in a little bit longer. It's good for your waistline

Photo by TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images

Well, here’s some depressing news for college students, new parents, and anyone who stays up late to meet a deadline (or watch a marathon of House of Cards). It’s bad for your waistline. But it’s actually not the lack of sleep that is necessarily bad for you, rather the fact that you eat more when you aren’t sleeping.

Although it isn’t surprising that there’s a link between weight gain and sleep, a new study out of the University of Colorado showed how quick the link can be formed between lack of sleep and extra pounds. Turns out that just a few days of sleeping a couple of hours less than normal can lead to weight gain, reports the New York Times.

Although getting fewer hours of sleep increases a person’s metabolism, it also leads to overeating. In the experiment, the light sleepers gained an average of around two pounds after one week. It’s not just that those who sleep less eat more, it’s also that they eat more food that is bad for you, mostly carbohydrates and fats. Plus, they eat smaller breakfasts and take part in much more after-dinner snacking. In the experiment, once the sleep-deprived subjects were given more hours of sleep they immediately began eating more healthfully.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.