insult to injury

Being Tired Could Be Making You Eat More

Photo: Yiu Yu Hoi/Getty Images

Feel extra hungry after a night of tossing and turning or crashing a work project? Those two things might be linked.

Researchers at King’s College London did a meta-analysis of 11 existing studies involving 172 participants and found that, after a night of limited sleep, people ate an average of 385 extra calories the next day compared to people who got a solid amount of sleep. (The paper, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at studies where people had their sleep restricted to about four hours and also included control groups where people slept seven to 12 hours. The researchers tracked how many calories they ate and burned the next day.)

Not only did the short sleepers eat more, they also gravitated toward calorie-dense fat over protein. And they didn’t burn any more calories to make up for it, either. The New York Times explains some theories:

Some have suggested that sleep deprivation affects the hormones that control appetite, but the authors wrote that a lack of sleep may heighten the desire for food as a reward.

If this finding holds true in the real world, not just in a sleep lab, a lack of sleep could lead to weight gain. One more thing to think about when you’re lying awake in bed.

Being Tired Could Be Making You Eat More