A new study published this month by the University of Colorado Boulder found that those who get less than five hours of sleep per night tend to eat much more, which can cause them to gain up to 2 pounds of weight per week.
In the study, 16 healthy students were divided into two groups and closely monitored. One group was allowed to sleep nine hours per night and ate a calorie-restricted diet, while the other only got five hours of sleep per night and had essentially unlimited access to food.
The results were clear: Those who got less sleep ate on average 6 percent more calories daily (even though they burned 5 percent more energy than the other group), and tended to consume more calories while snacking late at night than in any individual meal.
Not only did the study prove that those who sleep less snack more, it also opens the doors to further studies about the effects of late-night snacking.
"When people are sleep-restricted, our findings show they eat during their biological nighttime when internal physiology is not designed to be taking in food," Kenneth Wright, director of CU-Boulder’s Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory, which led the study, said.
They also stressed that getting more sleep hasn’t been proven to lead to weight loss, but when worked into a healthy lifestyle, it couldn’t hurt.