Poor Sleep Habits Linked to Weight Gain in Young Adults

We say it over and over here at SleepBetter.org, and it’s not a new idea — most people don’t get enough sleep.  Another health issue in America and other countries is the rising percentage of people who are overweight.  Are those two facts linked?  A new study profiled by Reuters and other media sources is now linking an increase of belly fat with getting either too little sleep or too much.  The researchers focused on Hispanics and African-Americans because of the lack of study of those two groups, and because they’re prone to obesity and the health problems associated with it.

Researchers found that among black and Hispanic adults younger than 40, those who typically slept for five hours or less each night had a greater accumulation of belly fat over the next five years, versus those who averaged six or seven hours.

Those who logged eight hours or more in bed each night also showed a bigger fat gain — but it was less substantial than that seen in “short sleepers.”

The study, reported in the journal Sleep, does not prove that too little or too much sleep directly leads to excess fat gain. But the findings support and extend those of other studies linking sleep duration — particularly a lack of sleep — to weight gain and even to higher risks of diabetes and heart disease.

Researchers theorized why there was an increase in fat among those who got too little sleep AND those who got more than average.  They say those who get too little sleep may be too tired to exercise.  Those who get too much may be less active in general.  Research also suggests that sleep loss alters people’s levels of appetite-regulating hormones — which could, in theory, spur them to overeat.

For healthful advice on how to get a good night’s sleep, be sure to check out our 17 Healthful Sleep Tips, and read the dozens of articles on our Sleep Solutions page!