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Sleep and weight gain

4th March 2013


Both short and long sleeping times predict an increased risk of future body weight and fat gain in adults, according to a study published in the April 1 issue of the journal SLEEP.

The study, authored by Jean-Philippe Chaput, of Laval University in Quebec, Canada, focused on 276 adults between 21-64 years of age, whose body composition measurements and self-reported sleep duration were determined. Changes in fatty indices were compared between short (five to six hours), average (seven to eight hours) and long (nine to 10 hours) duration sleeper groups.

According to the results, after adjustment for age, sex, and baseline body mass index, short duration sleepers gained 1.98 kg more and long duration sleepers gained 1.58 kg more than did average duration sleepers over six years. Short and long duration sleepers were 35 percent and 25 percent more likely to experience a 5 kg weight gain, respectively, as compared with average duration sleepers over six years. The risk of developing obesity was elevated for short and long duration sleepers as compared with average duration sleepers, with 27 percent and 21 percent increases in risk, respectively.

"Our study provides evidence that both short and long sleeping times predict an increased risk of future body weight and fat gain in adults. Furthermore, these results emphasise the need to add sleep duration to the list of environmental factors that are prevalent in our society and that contribute to weight gain and obesity. Since preventing obesity is important, a pragmatic approach adding sleep hygiene advice to encouragement towards a healthy diet and physical activity may help manage the obesity epidemic," said Chaput.

It is recommended that adults get between seven and eight hours of nightly sleep.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) offers the following tips on how to get a good night's sleep:

* Follow a consistent bedtime routine.

* Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime.

* Get a full night's sleep every night.

* Avoid foods or drinks that contain caffeine, as well as any medicine that has a stimulant, prior to bedtime.

* Do not bring your worries to bed with you.

* Do not go to bed hungry, but don't eat a big meal before bedtime either.

* Avoid any rigorous exercise within six hours of your bedtime.

* Make your bedroom quiet, dark and a little bit cool.

* Get up at the same time every morning.





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