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Losing Sleep may Mean Gaining Weight

by Dr. Nithin Jayan on  February 24, 2011 at 4:59 PM Health Watch   - G J E 4
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Obesity has become a major public health issue throughout the world. India harbours 5% of obese population and this is likely to become an epidemic if due measures are not implemented. In addition to the multitude of health hazards that obesity poses, there are now more reasons to lose your sleep. The association of sleep problems and major weight gain was examined in a major study in Finland. The results of the Helsinki Health Study were published in the International Journal of Obesity. Sleep problems have been found to have important implications for the prevention of weight gain and obesity. They contribute to major weight gain in women.
Losing Sleep may Mean Gaining Weight
Losing Sleep may Mean Gaining Weight

This is one of the very few studies that has examined the associations of sleep problems with BMI and weight gain in particular. Most of the previous works had explored the relationship between sleep duration with body mass index (BMI) and weight gain. It has long been suggested that sleep problems are associated with obesity. Sleep problems and obesity are risk factors for many diseases. The effects of factors like age, BMI, physical health, health behaviour, marital status, education, work arrangements, sleep duration and common mental disorders were also considered in the study.

The sleep problems defined in the study were:

(1) Trouble falling asleep

(2) Waking up several times per night

(3) Trouble staying asleep

(4) Waking up after the usual amount of sleep, feeling tired and worn out

The risk of weight gain was found to be greater among women with frequent sleep problems than among those with occasional sleep problems. No associations could be confirmed among men. BMI had a negligible effect on the associations studied. The other factors like physical health, health behaviour, marital status, education, work arrangements and sleep duration were also found to have only minor effects on the association. Though sleep problems may be linked with mental health, the relationship is complex. Authors write that 'frequent problems in initiating sleep were somewhat more strongly associated with weight gain in women than other sleep problems'.

Though problems maintaining sleep were also associated with weight gain the differences were found to be minor. The study is not devoid of limitations. But it provides novel evidence suggesting that sleep problems contribute to major weight gain in women. The results highlight the need for proper management of sleep problems since it may aid in the prevention of weight gain and obesity. So don't forget to check out with your doctor when you start losing sleep. A stitch in time may save you from gaining weight.

Source: International Journal of Obesity

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