From the American College of Physicians, December 7th 2004 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine comes a study that suggests that there is a correlation between lack of sleep and weight gain. Chief author, Dr. Eve Van Cauter, Professor of Medicine, University of Chicago, states, "If you do not run a sleep debt, you will be able to curb your appetite more easily and maintain or lose weight."
A full article on the original research on the December 2004 FitCommerce.com website notes that sleep deprivation increases levels of a hunger hormone and decreases levels of a hormone that can make you feel full. These 2 factors lead to cravings for sweets, chips, and starchy fare like bread and pasta thus setting up the scenario for weight gain.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, An estimated 63% of American adults do not get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. They report that the average adult gets 6.9 hours of sleep on weeknights and 7.5 hours on weekends, for a daily average of 7 hours. The researchers point out that the decline in time spent sleeping correlates to the rise in obesity in the U.S. Statistics show that less than one-quarter of young American adults sleep eight to nine hours per night -- down from about 41 % in 1960.
The article notes that this scenario sets up a downward cycle. Not having enough sleep leads to weight gain, then weight gain and obesity leads to sleep difficulties that can affect the quality of sleep and therefore cause even more sleep loss and therefore more weight gain.