Q&A: Does staying up late cause weight gain?
Q. I’ve heard that not sleeping enough can cause you to put on the pounds. True?
A. Looks like it, and for a simple reason: more opportunity for late-night snacking. Researchers at the University of Colorado studied the effect of five days of inadequate sleep on the eating habits, calorie expenditure, and body weight of 16 adults. They burned slightly more calories per day when they got less sleep, but the amount they ate, especially at night, increased even more, leading to a net weight gain. The researchers concluded that your body needs a little more food during periods of insufficient sleep to fuel it through the extra hours you’re awake. But when food is easily accessible (for example, you have a plate full of cookies and nobody up to share them), you’re likely to eat much more than what’s needed to compensate.
For more on preventing and treating insomnia, read about the secrets of good sleepers and our Best Buy Drugs advice for sleep problems. And if you’re in the market for a new mattress, check out our Ratings of a dozen popular mattress brands.