The later you stay up, the more you eat, study shows - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

The later you stay up, the more you eat, study shows

Posted:
Dude, it's time to go to bed. A new study found people who got only four hours of sleep for five consecutive nights ate more fatty foods and gained 2.2. pounds on average.  (Ryan McVay / Getty Images stock) Dude, it's time to go to bed. A new study found people who got only four hours of sleep for five consecutive nights ate more fatty foods and gained 2.2. pounds on average. (Ryan McVay / Getty Images stock)

Courtesy NBC News

New research published today in the journal Sleep confirms what scientists have been telling us for some time now: the later you stay up, the more sleep you lose, the more calories you'll eat, and the more weight you'll gain.

In a first-of-its-kind experiment, sleep researchers from the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania, found that when test subjects went to bed at 4 a.m. and woke four hours later at 8 a.m., they consumed about 550 calories after 11 p.m., far more than their bodies needed. In addition, more of those 550 calories came from fat, resulting in a weight gain, on average, of about 1 kilo (2.2. pounds) after five consecutive nights of limited sleep.

Research over the years has produced similar findings, but the new Penn study is significant because it used 225 people. And because the research took place in a lab, scientists were able to control for a variety of factors.

Andrea Spaeth, a doctoral candidate and the study's lead author, called the logistics "a nightmare" but worthwhile because it increased the power of the results.

Spaeth said participants in the study could eat almost whenever they wanted and as much as they wanted. Meal sizes did not differ between baseline days and the five experimental days, or between the sleep-deprived group and a small control group. "But [the deprived group] ate more times through the day and shifted their calorie intake toward late night," she explained. "The next morning they'd actually eat less."

African-Americans were especially vulnerable to the effects of sleep deprivation. African-American men gained the most weight (about 1.7 kilos or 3.7 pounds), followed by African-American females and white men (both just under 1 kilo or 2.2 pounds), and white women (almost one-third kilo or .7 pounds).

"This is the first racial difference in such a study," explained Kenneth Wright, associate professor in the department of integrative biology and the director of the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at the University of Colorado, Boulder. "This provides experimental evidence for what we see in the epidemiological literature, that African-Americans seem to be more influenced by the effects of sleep loss."

Why that is, and why exactly anybody gains weight with sleep loss is still somewhat mysterious, Wright explained. In an experiment released earlier this year, his lab found that key hormones regulating food intake, like ghrelin and leptin, were within normal levels in sleep deprived people, but they still ate more.

It could be, he speculated, that control centers of the brain – i.e., willpower – are weakened, causing us to seek rewarding, pleasurable food, which could explain why we tend to eat fattier food late at night. We're seeking comfort. But there are other factors at work, too.

"We have biological mechanisms to prompt us to consume more energy" when we're awake, Spaeth said. But such evolutionary adaptation does not account for the fact that modern man in western society no longer has to hunt down an antelope or dig up a tuber to get food. All we have to do is open the refrigerator. "What we're doing is really overcompensating for small increases in energy requirements."

This is partly why shift work can be so detrimental to health, Wright said. "Shift work goes against the fundamental biological clock in our brain. We evolved to be awake during the day when we are supposed to be physically active and consuming food. When we are awake at night, the circadian clock does not adapt. There are consequences to that…That's why shift workers are at greater risk for many health problems we see in modern society."

Shift work isn't going away any time soon, though. Wright said finding ways to compensate for this circadian havoc is a key goal of chronobiological research.

Brian Alexander (www.BrianRAlexander.com) is co-author, with Larry Young Ph.D., of "The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex and the Science of Attraction," (www.TheChemistryBetweenUs.com), now on sale.

  • Update: 5 Workers Arrested During Banquete Game Room Bust

    Update: 5 Workers Arrested During Banquete Game Room Bust

    Saturday, April 19 2014 11:00 PM EDT2014-04-20 03:00:15 GMT
    Another game room bust, this one happening in Banquete late Friday night. The Nueces County Sheriff's Office raided two game rooms and both of them were packed with players. The sheriff's office had under cover officers look into two game rooms, one in Banquete and the other just south of Robstown. Not only is it alleged that the game room paying out money, but the game room in Banquete was also a fire trap since there was only one way in and one way out. The Banquete game room had been ...More >>
    Another game room bust, this one happening in Banquete late Friday night. The Nueces County Sheriff's Office raided two game rooms and both of them were packed with players. The sheriff's office had under cover officers look into two game rooms, one in Banquete and the other just south of Robstown. Not only is it alleged that the game room paying out money, but the game room in Banquete was also a fire trap since there was only one way in and one way out. The Banquete game room had been ...More >>
  • Residents Startled by Gun Fire

    Residents Startled by Gun Fire

    Saturday, April 19 2014 10:45 PM EDT2014-04-20 02:45:09 GMT
    Residents woke up to the sound of gun shots in one westside neighborhood Saturday morning. The incident happened just before 2:30 Saturday morning at a home near the intersection of Cortez and Baldwin Boulevard. Police later told 3 News that one man was arrested, but only for public intoxication. Police say the man put up a struggle with officers.More >>
    Residents woke up to the sound of gun shots in one westside neighborhood Saturday morning. The incident happened just before 2:30 Saturday morning at a home near the intersection of Cortez and Baldwin Boulevard. Police later told 3 News that one man was arrested, but only for public intoxication. Police say the man put up a struggle with officers.More >>
  • Car Crashes and Catches Fire

    Car Crashes and Catches Fire

    Saturday, April 19 2014 10:30 PM EDT2014-04-20 02:30:09 GMT
    A driver loses control and crashes in between two barriers under the freeway. It happened at the Greenwood turn around and SPID earlier Saturday afternoon. CCPD says that the driver was speeding when he made the turn and lost control, getting stuck between the two barriers. Police say the impact caused the car to catch fire. The driver was not injured. He was given a ticket and the car will be impounded, that's because the driver did not have insurance.More >>
    A driver loses control and crashes in between two barriers under the freeway. It happened at the Greenwood turn around and SPID earlier Saturday afternoon. CCPD says that the driver was speeding when he made the turn and lost control, getting stuck between the two barriers. Police say the impact caused the car to catch fire. The driver was not injured. He was given a ticket and the car will be impounded, that's because the driver did not have insurance.More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KIII. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.