A decent night's sleep curbs the number of pounds women put on as they age, according to a finding by a team of US researchers led by an Indian-American doctor.
In a study that followed more than 68,000 US women for 16 years, the team headed by Dr Sanjay Patel of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland found that women who slept more each night tended to put on less weight during middle age.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology and presented earlier this year at a medical conference.
The researchers found that women who typically clocked five hours of sleep were one third more likely to have substantial weight gain than those who slept for seven hours.
A key finding by the team also said that putting an extra 10 pounds doubles a woman's risk of diabetes.
According to Patel, there are several possible explanations for the findings. It could be that sleep deprivation causes the body to metabolise calories less efficiently. It may also be that a lower number of hours spent sleeping reflects a basic life change that can have a fairly dramatic impact, reported the Health on the net foundation.
Whatever the reasons, sleeping seven hours or more each night could help prevent women from gaining that extra pound, say authors of the study.
The researchers based their findings on data from the long-running Nurses' Health Study, which has followed the health of thousands of female nurses for the past 30 years.