New research suggests that among all of the dangers associated with a lack of sleep, a bigger waistline may be among the more overlooked risks, as well as a possible contributing factor to obesity.
The research, which was published Thursday on the journal PLOS One, looked at the sleeping and eating habits of more than 1,600 adult men and women. After analyzing these patterns, as well as the subjects’ weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure, it was determined that those who got less than seven hours of sleep per night tended to have larger waistlines than those who got seven hours or more.
All in all, there was a difference of about three centimeters (1.18 inches) in waistline between those who got about six hours of sleep, and those who got nine, according to a CBS Denver story on the new study from the University of Leeds in England.
Lead researcher Dr. Laura Hardie of the University of Leeds said that the new findings, aside from linking a lack of sleep to a bigger waistline and a higher risk of obesity, underscore the importance of getting enough rest each evening — ideally about seven to nine hours for most adults.
Explaining the possible link between poor sleep and weight issues, the researchers pointed out that the subjects who didn’t get enough sleep also had lower levels of good cholesterol.
“The number of people with obesity worldwide has more than doubled since 1980,” said researcher Greg Potter.
“Obesity contributes to the development of many diseases, most notably type 2 diabetes. Understanding why people gain weight has crucial implications for public health.”
Although it may seem hard to understand why a lack of sleep could lead to a bigger waistline, an article from WebMD explains that it is common for people who don’t get enough sleep to put on the pounds. And it all boils down to the vicious cycle that happens when one starts the day without getting a lot of rest – this may include drinking more coffee and eating more sugary foods than usual for a “quick shot of energy,” then skipping the gym and ordering some takeout on the way home, and heading to bed feeling “too wound up” to get a good night’s sleep.
WebMD cited Hackensack University Medical Center Institute for Sleep and Wake Disorders clinical director Dr. Susan Zafarlotfi, who said that the process starts on a harmless note, but could ultimately become akin to credit card debt and the high interest rates that come with unpaid balances.
“If you keep accumulating credit card debt, you will pay high interest rates or your account will be shut down until you pay it all off. If you accumulate too much sleep debt, your body will crash.”
As Grazia Daily opined, the main takeaway from the study is simple – since statistics now show that a lack of sleep could potentially enlarge your waistline, it may be best to deal with sleep problems head-on, and with urgency. And since the study didn’t show any links between poor sleeping habits and poor diet choices, as WebMD had suggested, it could also corroborate previous research suggesting that a lack of sleep could result in diabetes and other metabolic issues.
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