Study: Sleep 8 Hours, Eat 300 Fewer Calories

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I'm someone who needs a lot of sleep. I've never been able to get by on 6 or 7 hours a night (unless it's by necessity when my kids were newborns.) I've found that during those periods where I am consistently not getting enough shut-eye, I tend to eat more. Research has shown that sleep loss can increase hunger and affect your body’s metabolism, making weight loss more difficult. Now new research is quantifying exactly how much more sleep-deprived people tend to eat.

Researchers at Columbia University recruited participants who slept an average of seven to nine hours per night. Divided into two groups, the first group slept four hours a night for six nights. The second group slept nine hours a night for six nights. For the first four days participants followed a portion-controlled meal plan. The last two days, they were permitted to eat as much of whatever they wanted. The results definitely showed a difference in eating patterns between the two groups.

•"Participants consumed an average of 296 calories more when they were sleep-deprived compared with when they were well-rested.

•When women were sleep-deprived they ate an average 329 more calories a day vs. when they were well-rested; men ate 263 more calories.

•Overall, most of the extra calories came from high-fat foods such as ice cream and fast foods.

•When women were sleep-deprived, they ate an average of about 31 more fat grams a day. Men's fat intake didn't climb that much."

Lack of sleep can change hormone levels, increasing the release of cortisol. Increased cortisol levels can make a person feel hungrier, even if they are really full. Ghrelin (which stimulates hunger) and leptin (a fullness hormone) are also affected when someone is not well-rested.

Looking for more information about lack of sleep and weight loss? Check out Insomnia Can Hinder Your Weight Loss and 7 Hidden Ways to Get Better Sleep.

What do you think? Do you find that you eat more if you aren't sleeping enough?

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So glad that I read this blog! Report
Great blog. If you can get the require amount of sleep necessary, I know it would be better for your health but I cannot do it every night. Report
this is DEFINETLY true for me, I find that when im tired im consuming more calories for energy!! totally makes sense! Report
What a wonderful way to make it clear the benefits of sleeping. For women wanting to lose weight every little calorie saved will have them jumping on board. Just learned this week that my 6 hrs a night weren't enough and am attempting to add to those and reach my full 8. Report
Absolutely! I used to work third shift and found myself reaching for food to help stay awake through the night. I also believe that this is the reason for my plateau. Although my twins are 8 years old, one or the other wakes up at least once most nights. I have always had a hard time winding down the day and going to bed in time to get enough sleep. That didn't matter as much when I could sleep later, but being a single parent now, I HAVE to get up at 6:26 when the alarm goes off so the kids can get ready for school on time. I've been keeping a sleep diary for the past few weeks after reading an article here on Spark people about it, and it helps show me the patterns of what I already knew to be true. Report
When I started to have sleep problems
years ago, that is when the snacking got way out of control so yes I can see a connection Report
Not that I doubt lack of sleep could contribute to over-eating, but what strikes me is a lack of balance in the findngs. This story said the participants in the study were kept awake for 3-6 more hours per day than usual. When you're awake and active, your body needs more fuel. It would've been interesting to include the additional calories burned from the additional waking hours. Report
I know this is true for me. When I'm tired, I eat to give me more energy (or at least that's what my brain is telling me). I go for the carbs or the carb/fats. I'm finally learning that a 5 or 10 minute cat nap gives me more energy than food and takes about as long to execute.
I am not sure if this is true for me or not. I dont ever get 8 hours sleep a night. I have a new born that wakes me up 2-3 times a night. If this is true then that explains why I am not loosing the weight. Report
I think that this is true for me. This week I have irrefutable evidence of it. Eeek! Report
I like the idea of CAROLS_JOURNEY to put number of hours slept on the nutrition page. That way we notice if cravings are tied in with less sleep. Report
If you are sleep deprieved you are maybe getting coffees, sodas, and sugars to power you up. i don't think there should be a sleep button that is how I got unhealthy too much sleep and not moving off the couch. It seems like you could go to the other extreme fast. Report
Hey SparkPeople . . . why not include hours slept on Nutrition Tracker Page? Water is there. Fregies are there. Why not add Sleep, so it will print out on our reports? Report
Yes, I do find that to be so!
I've known about the connection between lack-of-sleep and weight gain (via more food consumed) for a while now. It is just a matter of putting into practise what I know! I am definitely hungrier and less capable of making healthy choices when I am sleep-deprived.

cj Report
Well, if only living didn't take up so danged much time, I'd get more sleep!! And so would most of us!! Hope researchers didn't get paid tax dollars for their research on this subject. Report
This is really good information. I love my sleep but can easily operate on 5 to 6 hours nightly. I'll have to get more from now on ;-). Report
It's all cyclic .... like the spokes on a wheel. Have to sleep adequately, eat well, and exercise consistently for the mind and body to function properly. Just one aspect out of alignment, whether slightly subtle or distinctly obvious, disrupts the whole "wheel!" Report
My doctor just increased an anti-anxiety medication that I take by just a little bit and now instead of waking up for hours in the night or not falling asleep until the wee hours of the morning or missing sleep all together, I am finally getting the rest I need and that wasn't even in the goals. I really feel better. I know that when I stay up, I am prone to snack though I had gotten better with mindful eating. And I was trying to rest as long as it was possible and sometimes during the day, but now I seldom take any nap during the day and if I do it is a catnap. I am shocked. I knew that sleep was good for weight loss though I had never seen the figures. Thanks for sharing them. I will save this blog for future reference. Sleep well, my spark friends on the journey to weight loss and fitness! ...and remember that sleep is restorative as well! Report
I agree absolutely. On the days that I sleep less I am far hungrier then on the well rested days. And of course it's not the salad or fresh fruit I want, it's the burger or the shake or the extra large piece of cake. Report
I am always hungrier when I don't get enough sleep, and usually for high-carb and sugary stuff. Plenty of sleep is essential to weight loss and good health! Report
I know that with less sleep, my thought process is skewed...if working at all!?! In other words, making "good" choices seems to much of a chore to work through. I'll just grab whatever is easiest.
When I get enough sleep, I can think about the fruit & veggies I have available and eat them when hungry, versus mindlessly stuffing my face! Report
I know I used to reach for food for energy, instead of resting or getting a good 8 hour night's sleep; so there is a connection with calorie intake and amount of rest. Report
I sleep 9-10 hours a night. Any less and I am totally cranky the next day. I haven't noticed any correlation between sleeping little and eating more because if I don't sleep enough I'm so cranky I don't notice anything! Report
I absolutely know that my sleep has a huge effect on my hunger the following day. If I don't get enough sleep nothing will quiet my hunger pains, no matter how much I eat! It's painful and unenjoyable. Sleep is my number one priority! Report
WOW! I knew that reseach showed you lost more weight when you get sleep. But these numbers are amazing. Report
yes yes yes
I defiantly eat more when i don't sleep as much. I have thyroid issues (not to mention menopause) and as a result there are many nights i wander the house not able to sleep, so i end up eating a snack and watching tv until morning. then ill sleep 4-6 hours get up and start my day... eating again. its almost like i have an extra meal when up late. Report
I've known this about myself for some time now. I especially need MORE than 8 hours in the winter! Summertimes, I can get away with 7 hours and not overeat, but winters are the hardest. (I also have S.A.D.) Report
Wow this explains a lot. Report
Loved the blog and reading the comments. Lots of "food" for thought here.
Thanks Report
I didn't notice this until recently when I did the SparkPeople Sleep Challenge and started keeping a sleep diary. On the days following a bad night's sleep, I was more hungry than usual. I found this very interesting and, now that I am aware of it, I can keep a check on myself. Thanks for the blog! Report
Funny but I just noticed that about a week ago. I was tired, very tired, at the end of the day and wanted to watch this TV show. As I was watching, I noticed I wanted to eat something. Then I realized I was tired and therefore not hungry but thinking the food would help me feel better, that 's what my mind wanted. So it is a mind over matter (food, matter) that is going I have proof. :) Report
I knew all about this. I alway saw that when I wnated to stay up late and finish stuff, that as long as I ate soemthing I coudl stay awake, but paid for it the next day and was groggy and would fall alspeep during the day. Now I make sure I go to bed by 9 pm and I wake up with the sun at 5 am. The crazy thing is I still wake up if I dont go to bed exactly at 9 pm. Getting on a natural rythumn is the ahrdest thing to do, especailly when you have a neighbor who has hound dogs who howl all night! But I do find if I take soem Ex-Stress I can fall asleep and if I am in bed sleep good, but sometimes I will pass out while watching TV and not get off the sofa until midnight. I know I need to go to bed earlier because why woudl I be passing otu at 8 pm? Good luck to all you guys and gals in getting a normal sleep! susan Report
ABSOLUTELY!! This is something I've battled with since my first was born 19 years ago!! My kids didn't sleep through the night until they were 3 years old!! (my fault, I know) That was immediately followed by peri-menopause, night-sweats and waking at 3:30 am. Finally, just this year, I am sleeping through the night... still not as much as I'd like (7 hours). I've always needed a lot of sleep, and I'm hoping some day to get back to 8-9 hours. But whenever I'm tired, I know I reach for something with fat and sugar!

Also I've noticed that my neighbors' kids stay up til all hours and they are very heavy. I've tried to delicately mention the possible link, but it falls on deaf ears. Report
Two weeks and I can sleep that long! Report
I noticed this a few years ago, but when I joined SP and started tracking I discovered that what I had suspected was fact. This is when I might be more inclined to have a sweet tooth and get stuck into ice-cream or something chocolaty when I normally wouldn't bother. My Dietitian also noticed this aspect of my sleep deprivation/"hunger" - I keep a daily spreadsheet with a break-down of calories/fats etc. as well as sleep/lack of, tiredness and take for her to look at with each appointment. This spreadsheet is where it becomes glaringly obvious. Report
This is true. I always crave carb-heavy foods when I'm sleepy. Unfortunately, I've been sleep deprived often since I started my job almost 2 years ago. That's why I gained back the 10 pounds I had lost the year prior. Report
Once again women struggle more with weight than men. Bah and humbug.
Interesting about the sleep food connection. As one who has fibromyalgia and the accompanying sleep issues it helps explains a few things. Thanks for the info.
TerrBear Report
I do feel more hungry when I don't get my rest! Thanks for the blog! I will try to get to bed earlier to get my rest, even if its a few minutes earlier every night! Report
I need to get back on track and get my 8 hours of sleep. Haven't been on a schedule these last few months. Report
I find I eat more high fat or high carb foods when I don't get enough sleep which generally leads to a bad mood. Report
I need to get more sleep. Cant eat if you are asleep. Report
I prefer to sleep 6-8 hours, but for the past 5+ years, I have slept 1-5 hours a night. Occasionally, maybe once every 2-3 weeks, I sleep 8 hours. I actually eat more then. Report
My fellow workers ENVY my ability to sleep , especially during the day, being a night worker. I usually get an average of 8 to 9 hours of sleep when I am off, when working that is about 6. But then I only work one on at a time, and so sleep about 6, then MORE during that night.

I take Melatonin, calcium, magnesium for sleep.
Last night , however, fell asleep in my chair, got up went to bed, NO pills at all, slept til 6: 30am Report
I sleep 8 and a half to 9 and a half. I know that seems like A LOT. But since I was a baby, I've always needed a lot more sleep to function properly. So on days when I only get 6 or 7, I feel worse the next day and definitely have an increased appetite. I totally believe it! Report
I completely agree, my little one is 2 years old and used to eat more as was waking up every 3 hours to feed him though thankfully sleep is much better now as he is grown up :) Report
I need at least 7 hours sleep. The other night I slept for 11 hours! I wake up early at about 6 am and I'm usually in bed at around 9:30 pm. It works for me and I'm never ever tired during the day. Report
I KNIOW this is true of me! One of my biggest regrets is that I did not force myself to go to bed earlier when my children were growing up. Not only was I always tired and "eating for energy," I was irritable! Not a fun mom! At the time, having that time to myself after everyone else had gone to bed seemed like a tresure to me, but looking back I see clearly that I had my priorities all wrong. Whatever is best for mom is best for the whole family! (And ENOUGH REST is best for mom!)

I also think that "burning the candle at both ends" led to my mother's early death. She had five major health problems, including extremely high blood pressure and obesity. I'm certain that if she had lived a more structured, more restful life she would have lived healthier and longer.

Another thought, I remember driving home from work when I was exhausted and STILL had to prepare dinner, etc. I remember making a mental note that not everyone who was driving "crazy" was a self-centered idiot ... maybe they were sleep deprived!

Getting enough rest is one of the greatest gifts a person can give him/herself!

Stepping off my soapbox now .... Report
Could also explain when/why women and men gain weight gain after first children added to household Report
OMG! I always thought that it was just me! I have a demanding work schedule and sometimes I work 13-15 hour days. I'm not able to get enough sleep. I feel sleepy, but have no time to sleep. I always felt like I couldn't get "full" and I kept wanting to snack. Now I see it's more than just will-power or emotions here! Report
I also think that you are onto something for I have noticed that when I don' t sleep I tend to eat and I know I'm full but I still feel hungry. Thanks for this blog, I don't have to think there is something wrong with me. I will try to get more sleep. Report
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