Study: Sleep Restriction Decreases Morning Resting Metabolic Rate in Healthy Adults

Sleep restriction decreased morning resting metabolic rate in healthy adults, suggesting that sleep loss leads to metabolic changes aimed at conserving energy.

Source: Resting metabolic rate varies by race and by sleep duration

Q: Does this mean if I sleep too little, I can get by with less food?

Not exactly.

Other studies have found that when people are subjected to sleep deprivation, they increase consumption of foods that we associate with fat storage (calorically dense and high in saturated fat and sugar).  As impulse control is reduced when an individual is under stress, such as when a person is sleep deprived, the ability to restrict calories is reduced. On top of this, the body tends towards fat storage when the metabolic rate is compromised.  This short term study only highlights the first in a chain of concerning physiological changes that damage energy regulation during sleep deprivation. The overview (that builds off of other studies) is that when subjected to sleep deprivation, impulse control decreases and the tendency to store fat increases.

Q: Consequences of [Long] Shift Work?

If you’re really wondering what the long-term consequences might be, here’s some of them.

Keep in mind that this is not a guarantee that these issues will/won’t happen. They are just probable, and lifestyle choices make them more or less probable.

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol)
  • Diabetes Mellitus (diabetes type 2)
  • Cardiovascular disease (heart disease)
  • Fatty liver disease

The problem with having these diseases isn’t just that they kill you early (which sometimes they do) – the more significant problem is they take years off your quality of life.  Modern medicine is very good at handling these diseases. But, it takes a handful of pills daily, sometimes multiple times daily, to keep diseases like this from killing a person.  Do what you can to be kinder to your future self: Sleep more, eat healthier, and try to relax. Even a bit will help.