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Too Little Sleep Spurs Appetite-Boosting Hormones: Study

FRIDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Getting more sleep may help reduce overeating, a small new study suggests.

The researchers also found that the hormonal process through which sleep affects eating is different for men and women.

The study included 27 normal-weight men and women, aged 30 to 45, who were studied under two sleep conditions: short sleep (four hours) and normal sleep (nine hours). Short sleep led to increased levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin in men but not in women. But short sleep reduced levels of the satiety (feeling of fullness) hormone GLP-1 in women but not in men.

The findings suggest that the common problem of wanting to overeat due to a lack of sleep is related to increased appetite in men and reduced feelings of fullness in women, according to the study in a recent issue of the journal Sleep.

"Our results point to the complexity of the relationship between sleep duration and energy balance regulation," study principal investigator Marie-Pierre St-Onge, of the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center, St. Luke's/Roosevelt Hospital, and the department of medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University in New York City, said in a journal news release.

"The state of energy balance, whether someone is in a period of weight loss or weight gain, may be critical in the metabolic and hormonal responses to sleep restriction," St-Onge added.

The findings support the idea that amount of sleep has a direct effect on eating and weight control, the researchers said.

However, while the study found an association between sleep duration and hunger, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The Harvard School of Public Health has more about sleep and weight.

-- Robert Preidt

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