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Sleep restriction results in increased consumption of energy from snacks

WESTCHESTER, Ill. Bedtime restriction in an environment that promotes overeating and inactivity is accompanied by increased intake of calories from snacks. This behavior may contribute to the increased risk of weight gain and obesity associated with short sleep hours, according to a research abstract that will be presented on Wednesday at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).

The study authors led by Plamen Penev, MD, PhD, of the University of Chicago, followed 11 healthy volunteers who each completed two 14-day studies in random order at least three months apart. Studies were carried out in the laboratory with five-and-a-half or eight-and-a-half hour bedtimes and ad lib food intake.

According to the results, when bedtimes were restricted to five-and-a-half hours study subjects consumed more energy from snacks. The carbohydrate content of ingested snacks also increased for this group.

The authors concluded that factors such as longer exposure to an environment with unlimited access to food and changes in reward seeking and motivation may underlie the increased consumption of snacks associated with recurrent bedtime curtailment.

It is recommended that adults get between seven and eight hours of nightly sleep.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) offers the following tips on how to get a good nights sleep:

  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine.

  • Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.

  • Get a full nights sleep every night.

  • Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medicine that has a stimulant, prior to bedtime.

  • Do not bring your worries to bed with you.

  • Do not go to bed hungry, but dont eat a big meal before bedtime either.

  • Avoid any rigorous exercise within six hours of your bedtime.

  • Make your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool.

  • Get up at the same time every morning.

Those who suspect that they might be suffering from a sleep disorder are encouraged to consult with their primary care physician or a sleep specialist.


Contact: Kathleen McCann
American Academy of Sleep Medicine

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