Researchers from the Columbia Medical Centre in an experiment on 27 healthy volunteers found that restricted sleep affected levels of different hormones in men than in women.
Scientists have thought that long-term sleep deprivation may contribute to obesity because it increases the number of calories eaten the following day.
It has now been found the mechanism for this differs between the genders, The Telegraph reported.
“Restricting sleep in healthy, normal weight participants has limited effects on metabolic risk factors and may affect food intake regulating hormones differently in men and women,” said lead author Dr Marie-Pierre St-Onge.
“We were surprised by the lack of a significant effect of sleep on glucose and insulin, leptin, and sex differences in the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin and the satiety hormone GLP-1,” St-Onge said.
The team measured hormone levels in the blood taken from the volunteers after sleeping for four hours and for nine hours.
Short sleep increased total ghrelin levels in men but not women and reduced GLP-1 levels in women but not in men, a sex difference that has not been reported before.
The results suggest that the common susceptibility to overeat during a period of short sleep is related to increased appetite in men and reduced feelings of fullness in women.
“Our results point to the complexity of the relationship between sleep duration and energy balance regulation,” St-Onge said.
“The state of energy balance, whether someone is in a period of weight loss or weight gain, may be critical in the metabolic and hormonal responses to sleep restriction,” St-Onge added.
The findings were published in the journal Sleep.
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