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Poor sleeping habits may lead some people to obesity, but not everyone

Posted March 4, 2017

We all know sleep is important to us and is the cornerstone of healthy living. However, ever so often we still go to sleep too late. Scientists are continuing to prove that sleep is crucial for us. Now a new research from the University of Glasgow revealed that poor sleeping habits can actually increase the risk of obesity if you are already inclined to being overweight.

If obesity is already in the genes, one should be careful with his sleeping patterns. Image credit: CGP Grey via Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Of course, genetics play a greater role than sleeping too little every night. In fact, poor sleeping habits can only increase the likelihood of developing obesity if it is already there because of genetic reasons. On the other hand, life style is important as well. It can prevent the obesity despite what is written in the genes. Genetics are not the only one to blame for being overweight. And so, sleeping patterns, apparently, can contribute too. Scientists looked at such habits as short sleep duration (less than 7 hours sleep a night) and long sleep duration (more than 9 hours sleep a night). They also paid attention to daytime napping and shift work.

This research revealed that those people who sleep too shortly or for too long both face higher risk of developing obesity. In other words, normal sleeping time is a very short window, which does not affect person’s weight. Sleeping duration between 7 and 9 hours every night is considered normal and healthy. Interestingly, sleeping too long has a stronger effect on person’s weight. People who slept long hours every night were about 4 kg heavier, while short sleepers were about 2 kg heavier, than those with similarly high genetic obesity risk with normal sleep durations. This is very interesting, because it shows that diet is not the only thing that matters when it comes to habits and obesity.

At the same time those people who are not genetically predisposed to obesity, do not see the same effect of poor sleeping habits. They can have wilder sleeping patters and still will not face dangers of gaining excess weight. Scientists also noticed that napping during the day, shift work, and nightshift work are also pushing people to being overweight, which further emphasizes how important sleep is to a healthy body weight. Dr Carlos Celis, one of the authors of the paper, said: “it appears that people with high genetic risk for obesity need to take more care about lifestyle factors to maintain a healthy bodyweight. Our data suggest that sleep is another factor which needs to be considered, alongside diet and physical activity”.

This is very interesting, because it looks like people who want to lose weight have to adjust their sleeping patterns together with their diet and physical activity. And those who know that obesity is in their cards should reconsider their sleeping habits too.


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