TUESDAY, Feb. 26, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Lack of sleep can lead you to eat larger portions of high-calorie foods and increase your long-term risk of weight gain, according to a small new study.
Swedish researchers asked 16 normal-weight males to choose their ideal portions of high-calorie meals and snacks. They did this when they had a normal night of about eight hours sleep and again when they went a night without sleep.
The participants chose larger portion sizes after the night with no sleep. They did this both before and after a breakfast, which suggests that sleep deprivation increases food intake regardless of whether a person feels full, said study author Pleunie Hogenkamp, of Uppsala University.
"Bearing in mind that insufficient sleep is a growing problem in modern society, our results may explain why poor sleep habits can affect people's risk to gain weight in the long run," Hogenkamp said in a university news release.
The study was published online Feb. 18 in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.
In a previous study, the same team of researchers found that young, normal-weight men who went a single night without sleep had increased activation of a brain region involved in the desire to eat.
Although the study found an association between lack of sleep and increased appetite for high-calorie foods, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains how to prevent weight gain.