Will sleeping less make you fat???

Healthy Living

In the beginning of the 20th century, young American adults were sleeping almost 9 hours each night. By the 1960s, though, this had decreased to less than 8 hours a night, and by the year 2005, 16% of adults were sleeping last than 6 hours per night.

Sleep and obesity are similar to the chicken and the egg. In many ways, it is difficult to know which came first. Obesity is a risk factor for a number of diseases that can negatively impact sleep, such as sleep apnea, asthma, depression, and arthritis…so it is hard to tell if it is the decreased sleep causing the obesity or the obesity causing the decreased sleep.

A study conducted in women reporting their sleep habits and body weight every two years for a >15 year period was conducted. This study suggested that women who sleep less are more likely to gain weight and become obese in their middle-age. The same study showed that women who slept at least 7 hours per night weighed about 5 pounds less than those who slept 5 hours or less per night. These patients were followed for more than 15 years and the same pattern continued.  Since the number of sleep hours is self-reported, there may be some inaccuracy as many time people over- or underestimate their sleep pattern.

A more objective study looking at sleep time and weight has also been conducted which assessed two men and women aged 65 and older. Wrist actigraphy, which measures wrist movement, was used instead of self-reporting to determine sleep patterns. The results demonstrated that both men and women had a higher body mass index or BMI if they had less sleep. Men who slept 5 hours or less were ~ 4 times more likely to be obese while women were about 2.5 times more likely to be obese. 

So the research shows that less sleep=more weight but WHY????

One theory is that less sleep causes increased or altered food intake; increased hunger with sleep deprivation may be another reason. Also, increased food intake may occur even in the absence of hunger due to reduced impusle control or trouble delaying gratification which are consequences of less sleep. Finally, the more you are awake the more time you have to snack and if you are tired because you have not slept enough you may also be more tired and not able to exercise. 

We definitely know that less sleep is associated with obesity…the exact reason we still do not know. As we have seen from history though, our current society is definitely sleeping less than in the past. It would be great if we could start encouraging more sleep :-) 

How many hours do you sleep at night???


6 Responses to “Will sleeping less make you fat???”

  1. MarioNo Gravatar Says:

    I would say that less sleep = more weight is 100% accurate. Ever since I’ve been working at night I {eat more, drink coffee at night, and am too tired to go to the gym} and therefore have gained about 10 lbs in the last year. Sometimes I eat because of “reduced impulse control” and other times its to keep me awake. Very nice post. I should go to sleep now.


  2. Natalie @ will jog for foodNo Gravatar Says:

    I sleep usually between 7 & 8 hours a night. I would sleep more if my alarm didn’t go off! I think a good nights sleep is very important for a healthy lifestyle.


  3. Suzy EatsNo Gravatar Says:

    I am trying to sleep more. @mario I definitely am too tired to workout sometimes.
    @natalie I hate when the alarm goes off!!!


  4. Wendy IreneNo Gravatar Says:

    I just heard Dr. Oz say how important sleep is for regenerating your cells! I love to sleep. I don’t get as much as I want to with my little ones right now but I know in time that will change. They are so cute it is worth it! Have a beautiful weekend :)


  5. AdelinaNo Gravatar Says:

    Some days 6 hours and some days 7-8 hours. Interesting research and don’t need to feel bad I feel sleep longer.


  6. Tonya PeeleNo Gravatar Says:

    Sleep, yep….an area of wellness I definitely need to work on! It’s so easy to sacrifice sleep in order to get “just a few more things done”. Although we think we’re getting ahead, we’re just setting ourselves back. I’ll be working on hitting the sack earlier!


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