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Less sleep linked to bigger waistlines

Adults in the UK who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight and obese and have reduced levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, say researchers.

Adults in the UK who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight and obese and have reduced levels of ‘good’ cholesterol, say researchers

sleep
Researchers looked at links between sleep duration, diet and weight.
 Picture: Getty Images

Adults in the UK who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight and obese and have poorer metabolic health, study findings have found.

The findings showed that people who slept an average of around six hours a night had a waist measurement that was 3cm greater than individuals who were getting nine hours of sleep a night. Those getting less sleep were also heavier.

Key parameters

The study looked at links between sleep duration, diet and weight, as well as other indicators of overall metabolic health such as blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugar and thyroid function.

Some 1,615 adults reported how long they slept and kept records of food intake. Participants had blood samples taken and records were kept of their weight, waist circumference and blood pressure.

One in four

UK adults is obese.

Source: NHS Choices

The researchers looked at associations between how long people were sleeping and the key biological parameters.

Shorter sleep was also linked to reduced levels of HDL cholesterol in the participants’ blood – another factor that can cause health problems. HDL cholesterol is ‘good’ cholesterol that helps remove ‘bad’ fat from the circulation.

In doing so, high HDL cholesterol levels protect against conditions such as heart disease.

One of the authors, Greg Potter of the University of Leeds, said: 'Understanding why people gain weight has crucial implications for public health.'


Potter, G et al (2017). Longer sleep is associated with lower BMI and favourable metabolic profiles in UK adults: Findings from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey. PLOS One. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0182195

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