Sleepy Summer Evening

Better Sleep, Better Health, Less Obesity

Seven to nine hours of sleep per night might significantly improve health and reduce obesity risk. A new study published in PLOS ONE finds that people who sleep only six hours per night have a waist that’s three centimeters bigger than people who get nine hours. With better sleep, the odds of diabetes drop as well, along with other markers of poor health.

People Sleeping Less As Obesity Increases

Over the last two decades, for example, a recent study found that adolescents are steadily getting less and less sleep. Professor Matt Walker explained the scale of the problem to BBC:

Back in the 1940s people were sleeping on average just a little bit over eight hours a night, and now in the modern age we’re down to around 6.7, 6.8 hours a night. So that’s a staggering loss of sleep within the space of just 70 years. We’re now almost at the stage where we’ve lopped off 20% of that.

The Link Back to Obesity

In 2015, Patrice Capers and colleagues at UAB systematically reviewed experimental studies of sleep and energy balance. They found good evidence that less sleep leads to more calories consumed. But it also can lead to more energy expenditure.

Sleeping a bit more and a bit better is possible for every one of us.. And some evidence suggests that with better sleep, people make better dietary choices. We still need better research to quantify the value of improved sleep on obesity and metabolic health.

But we don’t need to wait. We can start tonight on getting better sleep. The world looks better after a good night of sleep.

Click here for the study in PLOS ONE and here for the systematic review from UAB. For a more recent narrative review, click here. And finally, for further perspective from BBC click here.

Sleepy Summer Evening, photograph © Ted Kyle / flickr

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July 30, 2017

One Response to “Better Sleep, Better Health, Less Obesity”

  1. July 30, 2017 at 6:17 am, Al Lewis said:

    I probably don’t have much cred on this subject by posting something at 6:13 AM on a Sunday morning, but obesity or not, you feel better if you get enough sleep, which I define not in hours but rather as, waking up on your own rather than with an alarm. Your whole day looks different. However, that is easier said that done for many people with long commutes, kids at home, two jobs etc.

    This isn’t a push-a-button solution. While a worthy goal, it may bump up against the reality of people’s other priorities. A perfect example of what John Lennon says: “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.”