Late bedtimes and less sleep may lead to weight gain in healthy adults

June 28, 2013

A new study suggests that healthy adults with late bedtimes and chronic sleep restriction may be more susceptible to weight gain due to the increased consumption of calories during late-night hours.

In the largest, most diverse healthy sample studied to date under controlled laboratory conditions, results show that sleep-restricted subjects who spent only four hours in bed from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. for five consecutive nights gained more weight than control subjects who were in bed for 10 hours each night from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. The study found an overall increase in during sleep restriction, which was due to an increase in the number of meals consumed during the late-night period of additional wakefulness. Furthermore, the proportion of calories consumed from fat was higher during late-night hours than at other times of day.

"Although previous have suggested an association between duration and /obesity, we were surprised to observe significant weight gain during an in-laboratory study," said lead author Andrea Spaeth, a doctoral candidate in the psychology department at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pa.

The study, which appears in the July issue of the journal Sleep, was conducted in the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The study group comprised 225 healthy, non-obese individuals, ranging in age from 22-50 years. Subjects were randomized to either the sleep restriction or control condition and spent up to 18 consecutive days in the laboratory.

Meals were served at scheduled times, and food was always available in the laboratory kitchen for participants who wanted to eat at other times of day. Subjects could move around but were not allowed to exercise. They were permitted to watch TV, read, play video games or perform other sedentary activities.

The study also found that during sleep restriction males gained more weight than females, and African Americans gained more weight than Caucasians.

"Among sleep-restricted subjects, there were also significant gender and race differences in weight gain," said Spaeth. "African Americans, who are at greater risk for obesity and more likely to be habitual short sleepers, may be more susceptible to weight gain in response to . Future studies should focus on identifying the behavioral and physiological mechanisms underlying this increased vulnerability."

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine reports that weight gain is a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a common sleep illness that has a severe impact on health and quality of life. The risk of OSA increases as the degree of additional weight increases, with an extremely high prevalence of OSA in people with morbid obesity. Anyone who has experienced recent weight gain and has symptoms of OSA, such as loud and frequent snoring, should be evaluated by a board certified sleep medicine physician.

Last week the AASM issued a statement supporting the new policy of the American Medical Association (AMA) recognizing obesity as a disease requiring a range of medical interventions to advance treatment and prevention. In conjunction with obesity interventions, proper treatment of OSA can dramatically improve overall health and contribute to successful weight management.

Explore further: Too little sleep may trigger the 'munchies' by raising levels of an appetite-controlling molecule

Related Stories

Too little sleep may trigger the 'munchies' by raising levels of an appetite-controlling molecule

June 17, 2013
Insufficient sleep may contribute to weight gain and obesity by raising levels of a substance in the body that is a natural appetite stimulant, a new study finds. The results were presented today at The Endocrine Society's ...

Less sleep leads to more eating, more weight gain, research says

March 11, 2013
Sleeping just five hours a night over a workweek and having unlimited access to food caused participants in a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder to gain nearly two pounds of weight.

Weight gain induced by high-fat diet increases active-period sleep and sleep fragmentation

July 10, 2012
Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, finds that prolonged exposure to ...

Researchers identify a potential new risk for sleep apnea: Asthma

May 19, 2013
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have identified a potential new risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea: asthma. Using data from the National Institutes of Health (Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)-funded Wisconsin ...

Adequate sleep helps weight loss

September 17, 2012
Adequate sleep is an important part of a weight loss plan and should be added to the recommended mix of diet and exercise, states a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Recommended for you

Study finds 90 percent of American men overfat

July 24, 2017
Does your waist measure more than half your height?

Are sugary drink interventions changing people's behaviour?

July 19, 2017
An evaluation of efforts designed to reduce how many sugary drinks we consume shows some success in changing younger people's habits but warns they cannot be the only way to cut consumption.

Young adult obesity: A neglected, yet essential focus to reverse the obesity epidemic

July 18, 2017
The overall burden of the U.S. obesity epidemic continues to require new thinking. Prevention of obesity in young adults, while largely ignored as a target for prevention and study, will be critical to reversing the epidemic, ...

Weight gain from early to middle adulthood may increase risk of major chronic diseases

July 18, 2017
Cumulative weight gain over the course of early and middle adulthood may increase health risks later in life, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They found that, compared ...

Study finds children carry implicit bias towards peers who are overweight

June 23, 2017
Even children as young as 9 years old can carry a prejudice against their peers who are overweight, according to a new study led by Duke Health researchers. They might not even realize they feel this way.

Mother's obesity boosts risk for major birth defects: study

June 15, 2017
Children of obese women are more likely to be afflicted by major birth defects, including malformations of the heart and genitals, according to a study published on Thursday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.