Not enough sleep last night? You may overeat today.
That’s the conclusion of investigators after reviewing data on 172 participants in 11 sleep studies. The study designs varied, but tested people after a night of restricted sleep, usually about four hours, and then after a night of normal rest.
The next day, participants were offered a breakfast buffet or scheduled meals later in the day. The scientists tracked calorie intake and energy expenditure.
The analysis, in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that after a night of limited sleep, people consumed an average of 385 extra calories the next day, roughly the equivalent of a frosted cupcake or a serving of french fries. They also consumed more fat and less protein.
Some have suggested that sleep deprivation affects the hormones that control appetite, but the authors wrote that a lack of sleep may heighten the desire for food as a reward.
They acknowledge that the studies had small samples, were conducted in controlled laboratory conditions and were short.
Still, the senior author, Gerda K. Pot of King’s College London, said the subject was worth investigating further. “Poor sleep,” she said, “could be a risk factor for obesity, and it’s something we can change.”