What you eat, when you eat, how you eat it. There’s a lot more to keeping your weight in check than just counting calories. Another factor to add to the list: your sleeping habits. According to a new study, insufficient sleep could lead to weight gain and an increased risk of obesity and metabolic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes.
Researchers from the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine and the School of Food Science and Nutrition in England found that people who sleep an average of six hours a night had a 3 cm (approximately 1.18 inches) larger waist measurement compared to those who were getting more like nine hours a night.
The study, published in the journal PLOS One, looked at 1615 adults who reported their sleep duration and food intake. Blood samples and blood pressure were also recorded, along with weight and waist circumference.
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“Because we found that adults who reported sleeping less than their peers were more likely to be overweight or obese, our findings highlight the importance of getting enough sleep,” said lead researcher Dr. Laura Hardie, Reader in Molecular Epidemiology at the University of Leeds.
More than that extra inch around the waist, the researchers noted that shorter sleep could increase the risk of metabolic diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, and a decrease in HDL cholesterol, the ”good cholesterol” that contributes to heart health.
Interestingly, the participants who slept for fewer hours on average did not follow a more unhealthy diet than the long snoozers.
"How much sleep we need differs between people, but the current consensus is that seven to nine hours is best for most adults,” concluded Hardie. Don’t sleep on the benefits of a good night’s snooze, folks. And make sure you’re not doing too much late-night snacking, which can affect your Circadian rhythms and cause you to gain weight.