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Too Much Sleep Linked To Obesity

You may have heard the buzz about how not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain. But now it’s looking like either too little or too much sleep can actually be connected to obesity.  This is according to one of the largest new government studies done to link irregular sleep and obesity. Let’s take a closer look at this recent discovery . . .

“The research adds weight to a stream of studies that have found obesity and other health problems in those who don't get proper shuteye, said Dr. Ron Kramer, a Colorado physician and a spokesman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

"The data is all coming together that short sleepers and long sleepers don't do so well," Kramer said.

The Study
The report explains that 87,000 U.S. adults were surveyed from 2004 to 2006 on their sleep and lifestyle habits by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study showed that for obesity, 33 percent who slept less than six hours were obese and 26 percent of the obese slept nine hours or more.

Nearly half of those who slept nine hours or more were physically inactive during their leisure time.  This was even worse than light sleepers.  Many of the people who slept more than nine hours had health problems that made exercise difficult. 

The elderly people in the study got the least amount of sleep.  Those younger people who did not get as much sleep were too tired to exercise. 

Not getting enough sleep creates may cause the hormones that control appetite to get out of balance, in addition to increasing the likelihood of developing diabetes and high blood pressure.

Sleep, Smoking and Alcohol
Light sleepers were also linked to higher smoking rates, less physical activity and more alcohol use. 

Smoking was highest in those people who did not even get six hours of sleep.  31% of these were smokers.  Also, 26% were smokers that received more than nine hours. The surveys did not prove that smoking causes sleeplessness.  It also did not account for other factors, such as depression.

In addition, those who slept less than six hours and more than nine were the biggest drinkers. 

Tips on falling asleep:

  • Limit your caffeine use.  If you have severe insomnia, you should be very cautious of your caffeine intake as well. 
  • Save your bed for sleep only. Try not to read, watch TV or do anything else in your bed but sleep (well, maybe you can do one other thing).  You will be able to more easily fall asleep once your head hits the pillow if you are relaxed and not distracted by other activities.
  • Try relaxation techniques for about 20 minutes before you go to bed. There are many different types of relaxation techniques that can be used, including progressive muscle relaxation and visualization. Some people use tapes or CDs to help. 
  • Get the right amount of exercise every day.  Do not exercise right before bed as it stimulates your senses and raises your heart rate.
  • If you have a hard time getting to sleep at night, evaluate your daily habits. Often the activities you are involved in during the day can have a very big affect on the amount and quality of sleep you get each night (i.e. stressful situations, too many cups of coffee, etc.).

"We're getting to the point that they may start recommending getting enough sleep as a standard approach to weight loss and the prevention of obesity," said James Gangwisch, a respected Columbia University sleep researcher, who was not involved in the study.

Ideally, you should strive for seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Sweet dreams!

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