Inconsistent sleep and sleep duration linked to excess weight

Inconsistent sleep and sleep duration linked to excess weight
Inconsistent sleep and sleep duration linked to excess weight

Past cross-sectional studies have found a link between short sleep duration and obesity. One of the largest and longest studies on adult sleep habits and weight is the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed 68,183 women who reported habitual sleep duration in 1986 were followed for 16 years The results showed in comparison to women who slept seven hours nightly, women who slept five or less hours had a 15% increased risk of becoming obese during the study period.

In this new cross-sectional study, Bruce Bailey, Exercise Professor at the College of Life Sciences, Brigham Young University , author of study and colleagues examined the association between sleep patterns and adiposity in young adult women.

The study included 330 young adult women, aged 17 to 26 years, median age 20.2 years, from two major Western U.S. universities who were monitored for sleep and physical activity for 7 consecutive days and nights using actigraphy (non-invasive method of monitoring human rest/activity cycles). All women had their height and weight measured prior to monitoring. Adiposity was assessed using the BOD POD (determines body composition). Sleep patterns were followed for one week.

The results showed that participants who got between 6.5 and 8.5 hours of sleep nightly appeared to have lower body fat percentages.

“We have these internal clocks and throwing them off and not allowing them to get into a pattern does have an impact on our physiology,” said Bailey.

Researchers also found a “sweet spot” for maintaining a healthy weight and lower body weight. The researchers considered the ‘sweet spot” as getting between 8 and 8.5 hours of sleep nightly.

Participants who had more than 8.5 hours of sleep nightly were found to have significant body fat. Those who had less than 6.5 hours of sleep nightly had more body fat than those had more body fat than those who fell in the range of 6.5 to 8.5 hours nightly.

Dr. Larry Tucker, PhD, Professor, Exercise Sciences an d co-author of this study commented “It’s not just how much sleep, but the quality of the sleep, and several factors can be used to determine that,”

In their conclusion the researchers write “Inconsistent sleep patterns and poor sleep efficiency are related to adiposity. Consistent sleep patterns that include sufficient sleep may be important in modifying risk of excess body fat in young adult women.”

If you want to improve your sleep quality Bailey recommends to exercise, keep the room temperature cool, have room quiet and dark and use the bed only for sleep

In closing Bailey comments “Sleep is often a casualty of trying to do more and be better and it is often sacrificed, especially by college students, who kind of wear it as a badge of honor.”

This study is published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

It is recommended that adults get 7 to 8 hours of sleep nightly.


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