Sleep and the Scale

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Story Updated: Mar 26, 2013

Or so concludes a small study from the University of Colorado.

Researchers recruited 16 young, lean, healthy adults to live in a quiet sleep lab.

All participants were allowed 9 hours of sleep on the first three days, and ate meals that were controlled to give them only the calories they needed to maintain their weight.

Then for the next five days, the participants were split into two groups: one was allowed five hours of sleep per night and the other got 9 hours of shut-eye. In both groups, participants were offered larger meals and had access to snack options throughout the day.

On average, the people who slept for up to five hours burned 5 percent more energy than those who slept up to nine hours, but they also consumed 6 percent more calories when allowed to nosh at night.

Sleeping just five hours a night over a work week and having unlimited access to food caused both male and female participants to gain nearly two pounds.

The researchers say this study suggests two things: that sufficient sleep could help battle the obesity epidemic and that overeating at night likely contributes to weight gain.

I'm Doctor Cindy Haines for Healthday TV With health information for healthier living.

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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, is part of a family of companies that finances and delivers vital health care services to 1.8 million people across upstate New York. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provides access to high-quality, affordable health coverage, including valuable health-related resources that our members use every day, such as cost-saving prescription drug discounts and wellness tracking tools in our Step Up program. To learn more, visit www.excellusbcbs.com