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Research Supports Theory That Sleep Loss Leads To Weight Gain

Obesity has long been linked to lack of exercise and overindulgence in poor food choices, but it turns out that there may be more to unwanted weight gain than nutrition and exercise alone. A new study led by Dr. Susan Zafarlotfi, has found that not getting enough sleep can be a trigger in weight gain, and lead to obesity in adults. This study is separate from another that concluded teen sleep habits may have a similar effect in both lack of sleep and too much sleep. Medical News Today Reports: “The findings of new research presented at ENDO 2015, the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego, CA, suggest that losing just half an hour of sleep can have long-term consequences for body weight and metabolism.

It has long been recognized that sleep helps the body rejuvenate, rebuild, and heal injured muscle mass, so it should come as no surprise that it can also affect an overall change in metabolism and in turn body weight. This news has been greeted with concern, especially because it has been long proven that the average American man and woman does not get enough sleep each night on a regular basis.

Following Up On The Study

Created by Weill Cornell Medical College researchers based out of Doha, Qatar, participants in the study were all previously diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and included 522 men and women who were weighed and measured. Each study participant kept a sleep journal in which they calculated what the study established as “sleep debt.” What they concluded was that those participants with more sleep debt, or loss or sleep, were 72% heavier than those who slept as much as is medically required. The study was followed up 12 months later and results were even more shocking; the team learned that for only thirty minutes of lost sleep, there was an increase in insulin resistance of 39% and an increased risk of obesity of 17%. Web MD quotes Dr. Susan Zafarlotfi in saying: “Sleep debt is like credit card debt, if you keep accumulating credit card debt, you will pay high interest rates or your account will be shut down until you pay it all off. If you accumulate too much sleep debt, your body will crash.”

Since being published in medical journals, this data has prompted further research on how sleep can affect weight, rather than just cognitive function, as it has been used in the majority of sleep studies in the past.

Obesity And Sleep Requirements

Sleep is an incredibly important part of a daily routine, giving the human body time to heal and rebalance itself. The recommended number of hours of sleep for an average adult is 7-8, with seniors requiring 9 hours on average. When these numbers are gained throughout the week, and then lost on the weekend, or staggered throughout the week with one night of full sleep then one night of no sleep, it can greatly impact weight and stamina. The New York Times agrees: “Large population studies show that both adults and children are more likely to be overweight and obese the less they sleep at night. In smaller, controlled studies, scientists find that when people are allowed to sleep eight hours one night and then half that amount on another, they end up eating more on the days when they’ve had less sleep.”

Not only does lack of sleep product greater eating habits in those who miss out, it often tends to increase the intake of carbohydrates, which in large quantities can cause more weight gain than the consumption of fibers and proteins.

People looking to lose weight and get healthy are urged to not only exercise regularly and maintain a healthy dietary lifestyle, but also obtain sleep levels as suggested by the Center for Disease Control and The Sleep Foundation. Not getting enough sleep can lead to illness, fatigue, and neurological problems later in life, so keeping a regulated routine, and trying your best to stick to this routine is more important than you may have previously thought. If you have young children, you may also want to consider regulating bedtimes to reflect more closely on weekdays and weekends, rather than extending a later bedtime on Friday and Saturday nights.

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