HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Sleeping and Weight Gain

You would think that an individual who actually is able to sleep for 8 hours a night should be the one that faces an increase risk of weight gain.  How many calories can you be burning while you sleep??  A study reported today shows that people who sleep less are actually more at risk for weight gain.  As CNN reports:

"Losing sleep can raise levels of hormones linked with appetite and eating behavior, the researchers said.

In one study, people who slept only four hours a night for two nights had an 18 percent reduction in leptin, a hormone that tells the brain there is no need for more food, and a 28 percent increase in ghrelin, which triggers hunger.

The young men in the study also tended to eat more sweet and starchy foods when sleep was cut short.

"We don't yet know why food choice would shift," said Eve Van Cauter, a professor of medicine at the University of Chicago who led the study.

"Since the brain is fueled by glucose, we suspect it seeks simple carbohydrates when distressed by lack of sleep.

"This is the first study to show that sleep is a major regulator of these two hormones and to correlate the extent of the hormonal changes with the magnitude of the hunger change," Van Cauter said."

So, even though you may find your self busy with holiday activities, not to mention drafting and then grading exams, you should try to get more sleep - or - you may eat all those holiday goodies even before you family arrives to celebrate with you.

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