Scientists have added up the cost of losing a nights sleep. By measuring the actual number of calories the body expends to fuel an all-nighter versus a good night’s sleep, researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder calculate that a full night of sleep helps the body conserve as much energy as is in a glass of warm milk.
Missing a night of sleep forces the body to burn about an extra 161 calories than it would have during eight hours of sleep (not counting what’s used in moving around while awake), but it’s no weight-loss miracle: The body tries to make up for the deficit by saving more energy than usual the next day and night, researchers report in the January Journal of Physiology.
Energy Conservation as a Function of Sleep in Human Beings
One of the proposed functions of sleep is to conserve energy. We determined the amount of energy conserved by sleep in humans, how much more energy is expended when missing a night of sleep, and how much energy is conserved during recovery sleep. Findings support the hypothesis that a function of sleep is to conserve energy in humans. Sleep deprivation increased energy expenditure indicating that maintaining wakefulness under bed-rest conditions is energetically costly. Recovery sleep after sleep deprivation reduced energy use compared to baseline sleep suggesting that human metabolic physiology has the capacity to make adjustments to respond to the energetic cost of sleep deprivation. The finding that sleep deprivation increases energy expenditure should not be interpreted that sleep deprivation is a safe or effective strategy for weight loss as other studies have shown that chronic sleep deprivation is associated with impaired cognition and weight gain.