Sleep Less, Eat More?

Published: October 15, 2012

Numerous studies show that poor sleep causes weight gain — 6.2 extra pounds in people who average less than five hours sleep a night. The cause of the gain? Researchers have theorized that poor sleep affects three hormones that are key to weight control: human growth hormone (HGH), leptin and ghrelin. But a new study shows that the sleep/obesity link has another twist: when you sleep less, you eat more, no matter what happens to your hormones.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic tested healthy individuals in a sleep laboratory and found that reducing average sleep time by 80 minutes triggered an increase in the average daily intake of calories — by 550 calories! However, they didn't find the telltale change in HGH, leptin or ghrelin levels.

All those extra calories "would accumulate and eventually translate into extra fat," Andrew D. Calvin, MD, the study leader, told the media. "Lack of sleep probably does contribute to weight gain and obesity," he continued. "Individuals looking to maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight should make sure they get enough sleep."

In two studies we conducted, the average weight gain in CFS/FM — a condition associated with profoundly disordered sleep — was 32.5 pounds.

Bottom line: poor sleep may be a critical factor in weight gain — and you may be able to sleep your way to weight loss!

(Read more at Medpage Today.)


"Insufficient sleep increases caloric intake but not energy expenditure," Calvin AD, et al, EPI/NPAM 2012; Abstract MP030

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. His newest book (June 10, 2024) is You Can Heal From Long COVID. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.

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