Mayo Clinic research links weight gain to lack of sleep

(Photo courtesy Scott Macleod Liddle)

The ongoing battle for sleep plagues many of us. In fact, doctors say 28 percent of adults get six or fewer hours of sleep a night.

Extreme fatigue, though, may not be the only side effect of that lack of sleep. A new Mayo Clinic study says it might be expanding your waistline as well.

Mayo Clinic researchers studied 17 healthy men and women for eight nights; during the study, half the participants slept their normal amount of time, the other half were restricted to two-thirds their normal sleeping time.

Those who slept less consumed about 550 additional calories a day. That’s a lot, considering the average diet shouldn't be much more than 1,800 to 2,000 calories a day

Virginia Hospital Center's Dr. Amit Patel says our country's lack of sleep is a serious problem.

“Recent data shows roughly 27 percent of people are getting less than six hours of sleep a night,” Patel says.

In addition to consuming the extra calories and despite the extra 90 minutes of being awake, the sleep-deprived group didn't burn any extra calories, which means they'd gain weight.

Patel says the key for optimal health is to get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night.

“Get your proper hours of sleep - not only will you feel better, you'll perform better, act better - you actually may save yourself from gaining weight,” Patel says.