Jan. 9, 2009 -- If you're looking for a way to cut down on snacking, you might want to get more sleep.
Participants spent two weeks getting only 5 1/2 hours of sleep a night. At least three months later, they went back to the sleep lab and spent two weeks sleeping for 8 1/2 hours per night.
Throughout that time, participants were provided meals and they had unlimited access to snacks. The researchers -- who included Arlet Nedeltcheva, MD, of the University of Chicago -- monitored what participants ate, down to the nibble.
Participants averaged 220 extra calories from snacks -- mainly carbohydrates eaten at night -- on the days after sleeping only 5 1/2 hours, compared to after sleeping 8 1/2 hours.
Participants weren't especially active during their extra hours of time awake. So their extra snacking when they had little sleep created a bloated calorie tab, setting them up for weight gain.
Nedeltcheva's study appears in January's edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
(For more on the surprising reasons for weight gain, see WebMD's Weight Gain Shockers Slideshow.)