The study was performed in the United Kingdom after researchers realized diabetes (something that often affects overweight and obese individuals) was killing 24,000 U.K. citizens each year. Four-hundred and fifteen million people suffer from the disease worldwide. But how are diabetes, being overweight and lack of sleep all related?
How Does Lack of Sleep Impact Weight?
Researchers took a look at 1,615 adults and their sleep patterns. The study showed that individuals who slept about six hours each night had a waist circumference three centimeters (1.18 inches) larger than subjects who slept approximately nine hours each night. Those who slept fewer hours also had higher body mass index (BMI) numbers.
To perform the study each study participant had a blood sample taken, waist measured and blood pressure recorded. According to Forbes, the sleep times fell into three separate categories: about six hours, average of 7.5 hours, approximately nine hours. Nothing the researchers found pointed to a link between lack of sleep and eating poorly. However, individuals who only slept an average of six hours per night had higher waist circumference and poor blood pressure results.
There were some factors that allowed for error in the study. Most of the information was self-recorded by the study’s participants. This means that the data collected on the amount of sleep each person got each night and their individual diet may not be completely accurate. There is enough evidence, however, to determine a link between lack of sleep and obesity, which is an important point.
Why? Well, the true reason why is still a topic of discussion among researchers. So far they’ve been able to deduce that lack of sleep can impact your self control, leading you to make poor food choices and ganging weight. Lack of sleep can also disrupt your hormones and make you more likely to crave those midnight snacks.
“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 Dr. Laura Hardie, senior investigator. “How much sleep we need differs between people, but the current consensus is that seven to nine hours is best for most adults.”
If you’re a short sleeper, don’t worry. There are a few things you can do to change your sleeping pattern and better your health. Try these:
- Go to bed earlier.
- Remove electronics from your bedroom. (Having televisions, phones, tablets, etc. in your room can impact the quality of sleep you are getting.)
- Sleep with earplugs in. If you’re a light sleeper, earplugs can help you sleep more soundly.
- Get a white noise machine. Have trouble going to sleep? A white noise machine helps many people nod off at the end of a long day.
- Better monitor your diet. Keep a written log or log in your phone of what you eat and be more conscious about what you’re putting into your body.
- When you can, correct your lack of sleep. Sleep in on the weekends if you can.
Taking initiative and being contentious about your sleeping patterns and health is the first step to avoiding obesity. By making small adjustments you can impact your health in a huge way!
Read the full study at PLOS.