It’s a proven fact that not getting enough sleep has bad consequences for the health. A new study adds weight to this by revealing that too few hours in slumber leads to a bigger waistline and a higher body mass index.
The study monitored 1,615 adults and found that those who slept an average of six hours per night had a waistline three centimeters (1.18 inches) bigger than those who slept around nine hours a night, Forbes reports. Those who slept less likewise had a higher BMI on average, and lower HDL cholesterol – the “good” cholesterol.
The researchers took blood samples and recorded the participants’ waist measurements, weight and blood pressure. They categorized sleep into three categories: average of around 6 hours, average of 7.5 hours, and average of 9 hours. On the whole, those in the 6-hour group had worse results than the other two groups.
Dr. Laura Hardie, senior author on the study, said, “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.” She further explained,
How much sleep we need differs between people, but the current consensus is that seven to nine hours is best for most adults.
The sleep relied on self-reporting when it came to the number of hours participants slept, and used average ranges instead of specific numbers. Diet was also self-reported. In addition, the study did not track results over a lengthy period of time, making this more of a slice of time, rather than a comprehensive study on how sleep affects health.
The results of the study reflect previous research that has shown a link between sleep and obesity. The reasons may be because not getting enough sleep results in less self-control, leading to poor food choices. Or it may be because not enough sleep disrupts hormones that regulate appetite, triggering cravings at night.
The study was published in PLOS ONE.