When It Comes to Sleep, Average is Best

Sleeping too little – or too much – can increase your risk for future weight gain, according to a study published in the April 1 issue of the journal Sleep.

For the study, researchers from the Laval University in Quebec, Canada evaluated the sleep habits and body composition of 276 adults between the ages of 21 and 64.

After adjusting for age, gender and baseline body mass index (BMI) the researchers determined that across the six year study period, those who slept for five to six hours per night gained 1.98 kg (4.36 lbs) more than “average duration” sleepers who slept between seven and eight hours per night. Those who slept between nine and 10 hours per night, meanwhile, gained 1.58 kg (3.48 lbs) more than average duration sleepers. In addition, the researchers report that the risk of becoming obese was elevated for both short and long duration sleepers, with short duration sleepers experiencing a 27% increased obesity risk and long duration sleepers experiencing a 21% increased risk compared to average duration sleepers.

Commenting on the findings, the study’s lead author notes that it “provides evidence that both short and long sleeping times predict an increased risk of future body weight and fat gain in adults,” adding that the data “emphasize the need to add sleep duration to the list of environmental factors that are prevalent in our society and that contribute to weight gain and obesity.” Ultimately, he recommends that sleep habits be included alongside healthy eating and physical activity in discussions about how to manage the current obesity epidemic.

It seems that when we’re talking about sleep, we’re almost always focusing on the fact that we just can’t get enough! However, this study shows that too much of a “good” thing might not be all that good for you, with people who are snoozing away the better part of the day (college co-eds come to mind here!) perhaps actually doing themselves a disservice.

All in, it would seem that this study proves that sleeping is (yet another) item that should be added to the “everything in moderation” list of life!

bitzcelt, Nick Wilkes Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

Frequent Sleep Disruption Increases Risk of Kidney, Heart Disease

7 Tips to Get Out of Bed

How to Avoid Jet Lag

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