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The link between sleep and obesity

Irregular Sleep Tied to Increased Fat Around Organs

Friday, March 05, 2010 by: Anthony Gucciardi

Sleep is one of the most fundamental principles of health. Without enough of it you may end up feeling groggy and stressed out on a daily basis. On the contrary, excess sleep may lead to an increase in body fat due to increased insulin production. Sleep is something that must be done in the right amounts. A new study conducted by the Wake Forest University School of Medicine reveals that irregular sleep patterns may lead to an increased amount of fat around the organs. This type of fat is much more dangerous than the typical body fat that tends to accumulate around the waist or abdominal region.

The study was clear that these habits were dangerous for people under 40 years old. This age group showed a clear association between averaging less than 5 hours of sleep per night and in increase in visceral fat (fat around the organs). The study found that within the group of subjects under 40, Hispanic men and black women were the majority group when it came to getting insufficient amounts of sleep. It is not only lack of sleep that is detrimental to one's health, however. The researches also found that excess sleep can lead to similar complications on a smaller scale.

The study showed that getting over eight hours of sleep was better than sleeping less than five, but both were linked with negative health effects. Excess sleep of eight hours or more was found to be prevalent in Hispanic women of all ages. What puzzled the researchers was the fact that in participants over 40, these effects were not observed.

"We don't really know yet why this wasn't seen in participants over 40, but it was clear that, in individuals under 40, it is worse to get five or less hours of sleep on average each night than it is to get eight or more hours," said Kristen G. Hairston, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of endocrinology and metabolism and lead author on the study.

Most health experts recommend sleeping around 6 to 8 hours per night. As the research shows, sleeping less than 5 hours can be extremely harmful to your health. While these effects were not found in adults over the age of 40, adults over 40 should still adhere to these sleep guidelines. The benefits of a proper sleep regimentation are numerous, and only some of them are fully understood.

"We definitely know that a relationship exists between sleep and obesity. Now we need to know how this relationship can be modified." said Hairston.


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