HealthDay News — Insufficient sleep is tied to increased calorie consumption and abdominal fat accumulation, according to a study published in the April 5 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Naima Covassin, Ph.D., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues investigated the effects of experimentally induced sleep restriction in the context of free access to food on energy intake, energy expenditure, and regional body composition. The analysis included 12 healthy, nonobese individuals (nine men; age range, 19 to 39 years) who completed a randomized, controlled, crossover, 21-day inpatient study that included four days of acclimation, 14 days of experimental sleep restriction (four-hour sleep) or control sleep (nine-hour sleep), and a three-day recovery segment.

The researchers found that participants consumed more calories (>300 calories per day), increasing protein and fat intake with sleep restriction versus control. There was no change observed in energy expenditure. In experimental sleep restriction, participants gained significantly more weight than during control sleep. Total body fat changes did not differ between conditions, but total abdominal fat increased during sleep restriction, with significant increases for both subcutaneous and visceral abdominal fat depots.


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“The visceral fat accumulation was only detected by computed tomography scan and would otherwise have been missed, especially since the increase in weight was quite modest — only about a pound,” Covassin said in a statement. “Also concerning are the potential effects of repeated periods of inadequate sleep in terms of progressive and cumulative increases in visceral fat over several years.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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