Sleep and Weight Gain

 Many people will try just about anything to lose weight or keep weight off. Most people turn to diet and exercise to ward off weight gain, but getting enough sleep may be a significant factor. Scientists are discovering there may be several connections between the amount of time a person spends sleeping and weight gain.

The Studies

A recent study by Amanda Gardner, from Health.com showed that people who slept for nine or more hours per night were less susceptible to genetic weight gain than those who slept less. The study looked at twins who had identical or very similar genetic makeup and were raised in the same household, learning similar eating and exercising habits. The study showed that “getting adequate sleep” appears to dampen genetic risk and allow the influence of diet, exercise, and other controllable lifestyle factors to ‘surface’.” So, if excessive weight gain runs in your family, it is likely that diet and exercise will be more effective for you if you regularly sleep for a full night.

Another study performed by John Easton from the Chicago Chronicleshows the physiological effects of sleep loss. Over the course of several days 11 healthy young men slept only 4 hours a night for several days, then they slept several days for 12 hours each night.  Towards the end of the days of sleep deprivation the subjects were not able to process glucose normally. The study stated “When tested during the height of their sleep debt, subjects took 40 percent longer than normal to regulate their blood-sugar levels following an injection of glucose. Their ability to secrete insulin decreased by about 30 percent. A similar decrease in acute insulin response is an early marker of diabetes.” The subjects also showed signs of increased cortisol levels, which are typically associated with age and memory loss. Fortunately, the glucose tolerance test results returned to normal following the nights of 12 hours of sleep.

Eve Van Cauter, the director of the study says, “We suspect that chronic sleep loss may not only hasten the onset but could also increase the severity of age-related ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and memory loss.

9 Hours a Night

With many people becoming busier and busier, sleep is often neglected. It is easy to justify skipping out on a few hours of sleep to get one more thing done. But it appears sleep may be just as essential to your health as a well balanced diet and plenty of exercise. Consistent sleep deprivation may make you more susceptible to weight gain, and diabetes. In order to stay healthy and fit, plan to sleep at least nine hours a night. If you can’t do it every now and then, that’s ok, you can make it up by sleeping a little more on a different night or napping. But, don’t routinely deprive yourself of sleep.

Photo “Scale-A-Week Project: July 31 2010” courtesy of davidd

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