“The main cause of obesity is an imbalance between calorie intake and expenditure and this study adds to accumulating evidence that sleep deprivation could contribute to this imbalance,” senior author Dr. Gerda Pot, a researcher in the Diabetes & Nutritional Sciences Division at King's College London, wrote in a statement. “So there may be some truth in the saying 'early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy and wise.'”
In addition to different dietary habits, a lack of sleep can also make it harder for people to exercise regularly, contributing to weight gain.
“Our results highlight sleep as a potential third factor, in addition to diet and exercise, to target weight gain more effectively,” lead author and fellow King’s College researcher Dr. Haya Al Khatib wrote. “We are currently conducting a randomised controlled trial in habitually short sleepers to explore the effects of sleep extension on indicators of weight gain.”