Sleep More to Weigh Less?

A new study published online today in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s journal, Sleep, revealed some exciting news for people who love to snooze – extra hours of sleep inhibit genetic factors that contribute to weight gain.

Experts studied more than 1,000 sets of twins, noting weight and sleeping habits, to determine that those who slept less than 7 hours each night, weighed more and seemed incapable of controlling their weight, compared with those who got 9 hours or more.

Nathaniel Watson, neurologist and lead author of the study, came to an astonishing conclusion upon analyzing the data of his study – among twins sleeping less than 7 hours, genes accounted for 70 percent of the difference in body mass index (BMI), while environment contributed to only 4 percent of the difference. On the other hand, among twins getting more than 9 hours of sleep, genetic influences accounted for 32 percent of the BMI difference, while environmental factors, like diet and exercise, accounted for 51 percent of the differences in weight.

These results confirmed what many experts already knew – sleep deprivation exacerbates genetic conditions – however the exact genetic pathways are still to be uncovered.

It also shows how important sleep is to healthy weight management. Recent studies have shown how much sleep quality and quantity impact the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes and now, it has been uncovered that your weight is heavily influenced by your hours of shut-eye.

This, of course, does not mean that hours and hours of sleep are the key to your weight loss woes.  Watson offered a word of caution to, “There is too much sleep and there is too little sleep. There is an amount of sleep where people become less healthy…. Most people need between 7 and 9 hours a night.”

Sleep is one of the top three pillars of a preventive health lifestyle, alongside a balanced diet and exercise. Too little sleep has been associated with increased risk of disease and increased secretion of hormones that can inhibit weight loss.



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