New Insight: How Sleep Loss Causes Weight Gain

October 17, 2012 — A story on NPR about a new study linking less sleep to the body’s decreased ability to manage fat suggests Americans need to wake up to the effect of good rest on weight. The study, done by Matthew Brady and colleagues at the University of Chicago, appeared today in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It looked at the fat cells of healthy people of normal weight in their early to mid 20s after 4 nights of 8.5 hours of sleep then again, a month later, after 4 nights of only 4.5 hours of sleep.

When deprived of the additional 4 hours of sleep, the ability of participants’ fat cells to respond to insulin decreased by 30%. "What the message is in this article is that your body may decide more of the food [you eat] as fat if you haven’t gotten enough sleep," says Helene Emsellem, director of Center for Sleep and Wake Disorders. The CDC reports that 1 in 5 Americans gets 6 or fewer hours of sleep per night.

You can read the NPR story here, and the study results from the Annals of Internal Medicine here.