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Sleep and weight gain: What's the connection?

Is too little sleep a cause of weight gain?

It may be. Recent studies have suggested an association between sleep duration and weight gain. Sleeping less than five hours or more than nine hours a night appears to increase the likelihood of weight gain.

In one study, recurrent sleep deprivation in men increased their preferences for high-calorie foods and their overall calorie intake. In another study, women who slept less than six hours a night or more than nine hours were more likely to gain 11 pounds (5 kilograms) compared with women who slept seven hours a night. Other studies have found similar patterns in children and adolescents.

One explanation may be that sleep duration affects hormones regulating hunger ghrelin and leptin and stimulates the appetite. Another contributing factor may be that lack of sleep leads to fatigue and results in less physical activity.

So now you have another reason to get a good night's sleep.

Updated: 4/14/2012

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