Could insufficient sleep be adding centimeters to your waistline?

July 27, 2017, University of Leeds
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Adults in the UK who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight and obese and have poorer metabolic health, according to a new study.

The findings showed that people who were sleeping an average of six hours a night had a waist measurement that was 3 cm greater than individuals who were getting nine hours of sleep a night. And shorter sleepers were heavier too.

The results strengthen the evidence that insufficient sleep could contribute to the development of metabolic diseases such as diabetes-major challenges facing the NHS.

The study - led by Dr Laura Hardie, Reader in Molecular Epidemiology at the University of Leeds - not only looked at the links between sleep duration, diet and weight, but also other indicators of overall such as blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugar, and thyroid function.

The study involved 1,615 adults who reported how long they slept and kept records of food intake. Participants had blood samples taken and their weight, waist circumference, and recorded. The researchers looked at the associations between how long people were sleeping and these key biological parameters.

The research team, from the Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine and the School of Food Science and Nutrition, reported their findings in the journal PLOS ONE.

Greg Potter, one of the Leeds researchers, said "The number of people with obesity worldwide has more than doubled since 1980. Obesity contributes to the development of many diseases, most notably type 2 diabetes. Understanding why people gain weight has crucial implications for public health."

Shorter sleep was also linked to reduced levels of HDL cholesterol in the participants' -another factor that can cause health problems. HDL cholesterol is 'good' cholesterol that helps remove 'bad' fat from the circulation. In doing so, high HDL cholesterol levels protect against conditions such as heart disease.

Interestingly, the study did not find any relationship between shortened sleep and a less healthy diet - a fact that surprised the researchers. Other studies have suggested that shortened sleep can lead to poor dietary choices.

The research was a snapshot of the associations between and measurements of metabolic health. It was not designed to assess the impact of chronic poor sleep over time, and whether that leads to disease.

Dr Laura Hardie, the study's senior investigator, added "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. How much sleep we need differs between people, but the current consensus is that seven to nine hours is best for most adults."

The findings add to the growing body of evidence showing just how important a good night's is to health.

Explore further: How much sleep do you really need?

Related Stories

How much sleep do you really need?

July 20, 2017
(HealthDay)—Health initiatives typically center on diet and fitness. But the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society state that getting enough sleep is just as important as eating right and exercising.

Does sleep duration affect cardiac metabolic risk in young children?

May 15, 2017
How many hours a day young children (1-3 years) sleep does not appear to affect their cardiometabolic risk (CMR) at ages 3-8, based on an assessment of factors including blood pressure and cholesterol and blood glucose levels. ...

Getting a bad night's sleep could be increasing some people's likelihood of becoming obese

March 2, 2017
According to a study led by the University of Glasgow, and published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN), abnormal sleeping habits increase the risk of obesity for those who are genetically predisposed ...

Too little sleep may raise death risk in people with cluster of heart disease risk factors

May 24, 2017
People with a common cluster of risk factors for heart disease and diabetes were approximately twice as likely to die of heart disease or stroke as people without the same set of risk factors if they failed to get more than ...

Sleep disorders may influence heart disease risk factors

September 20, 2016
Sleep problems including sleeping too little or too long, may be linked to a variety of factors that may raise the risk for cardiovascular diseases, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement published ...

Dreaming of a good night's sleep

October 22, 2015
New research from the University of Leeds has revealed that some people are losing more than 15 day's worth of sleep a year.

Recommended for you

Study compares athlete and truck driver, identical twins

July 20, 2018
When it comes to being fit, are genes or lifestyle—nature or nurture—more important? Researchers at San Francisco State University, CSU Fullerton and Cal Poly, Pomona removed the nature part of the equation by studying ...

Secondhand smoke causing thousands of still births in developing countries

July 20, 2018
The study reveals that more than 40% of all pregnant women in Pakistan are exposed to secondhand smoke—causing approximately 17,000 still births in a year.

Eating iron-fortified grain improves students' attention, memory

July 18, 2018
Adolescent students in a rural school in India who consumed an iron-biofortified version of the grain pearl millet exhibited improved attention and memory compared to those who consumed conventional pearl millet, according ...

Vaping tied to blood clots—in mice

July 18, 2018
A new study involving mice raises another concern about the danger of e-cigarettes in humans after experiments showed that short-term exposure to the device's vapors appeared to increase the risk of clot formation.

Lowering hospitals' Medicare costs proves difficult

July 18, 2018
A payment system that provides financial incentives for hospitals that reduce health-care costs for Medicare patients did not lower costs as intended, according to a new study led by Washington University School of Medicine ...

People who tan in gyms tan more often, and more addictively, than others, new research shows

July 18, 2018
Gyms are places people go to get healthier. But nearly half the gyms in the U.S. contain a potentially addictive carcinogen—tanning beds, report UConn researchers in the July 18 issue of JAMA Dermatology.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.