Can less sleep cause weight loss?

A study led by Svante Pääbo and colleagues at the University of Helsinki found that a moderate level of sleep could actually help to explain why some individuals lose weight: they go to bed as a healthy and well-rested person, have too much “nocturnal sleep”.

In other words, they sleep less than people who are not a little sleep deprived when healthy. In this case, too much sleep leads to higher levels of glucose in the blood that can then be used for energy production.

For example, a person who is 5ft 9in tall and who had a normal sleep duration of just six hours a night had a level of glucose in the blood of 11.6 mmol/L (6.1 mmol/L being the normal healthy level of glucose – the average for a typical healthy person). After consuming two cookies with chocolate and two drinks with alcohol, the same person’s glucose level rose to 17.7 mmol/L (8.9 mmol/L being the normal healthy level of glucose), as well as a spike to 4.5 mmol/L (1.3 mmol/L being the normal healthy level of glucose). The person who had little sleep had a level of glucose of 7.1 mmol/L (2.7 mmol/L being the normal healthy level of glucose). This is a very small increase but a significant one. And because these people did not eat much (they may only have eaten one small meal per day), their amount of glucose in the blood was also far below the normal healthy range of 10 to 13 mmol/L (0.5 to 1.6 mmol/L).

This finding goes against the prevailing advice from experts for most patients to do all they can to avoid the night time. Most doctors recommend a long daytime sleep duration of six to eight hours, followed by two to four nights of non-stop sleep. A similar level of sleep is recommended for a pregnant woman, and a healthy person should try to get eight to 10 hours per night, followed by no less than seven nights of no sleep.

But the people in the study had different levels of glucose in their blood, as their body used the extra glucose as the main source of energy production. In this case, the average person would require at least 24 to 28 hours of non-stop sleep for the amount of glucose that would be produced by their body to equal the amount used.

“In general, people should try to get more sleep per night