Could a bad night’s sleep really lead to weight gain?

Science seems to think so

Words by Jadie Troy-Pryde

If you’ve ever wanted to lose weight you will probably have heard that balancing regular exercise with a healthy diet is the best course of action to reach your goal. But then science comes along and tells us that our weight can actually be determined by how much household dust is in our homes, and that too much exercise could actually stop us from losing weight.

However, it seems that these aren’t the only things that can affect our bodies with scientists now claiming that if we are prone to sleepless nights, it could actually lead to weight gain.

A study at the University of Leeds looked at both the sleeping and eating habits of 1,615 adults in order to determine if there was any correlation between the two. The researchers also analysed the participants’ overall metabolic health, taking into account things such as blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugar and thyroid function.

The results showed that the individuals who slept for roughly six hours a night had waists roughly 3cm larger than their sleepier counterparts who snoozed for an average of nine hours a night.

As for those who got even less than six hours sleep, they were reported as being ‘heavier’. Although the research found no link between the amount of sleep we get and the food we eat, it does suggest that sleeplessness could lead to metabolic conditions which would explain the outcome of the study.

Dr Laura Hardie, Reader in Molecular Epidemiology at the university, 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.

‘How much sleep we need differs between people, but the current consensus is that seven to nine hours is best for most adults.’

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