Research has done it again.  Find a way to let us know what we are doing wrong…

This time, insufficient sleep has been linked to larger waistlines, up to three centimetres greater for people sleeping six hours per night compared to those getting nine hours’ sleep.

In light of the obesity epidemic and the growing number of cases of type 2 diabetes worldwide, researchers at the UK’s University of Leeds studied the impact of sleep on metabolism.

The study involved 1,615 adults aged 19 to 65. The scientists measured various indicators of the participants’ overall metabolic health, such as blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol and thyroid function. Participants were also asked to report how long they slept and to keep a record of food intake.

According to the results, the waist measurements of people who slept on average six hours per night were three centimetres higher than participants who slept nine hours a night. They also had more chance of being overweight.

The researchers observed that levels of HDL cholesterol – so-called “good” cholesterol that protects against conditions such as heart disease – were lower in adults who slept less.

However, the dietary habits of shorter sleepers were no less healthy, contrary to other studies, that have linked snacking and cravings for sugary or fatty foods to lack of sleep.

Tips to get enough shut eye

To fulfill the realistic objective of getting seven to nine hours’ sleep per night, recommendations include:

  • Maximizing exposure to natural sunlight during the day;
  • Switching lie-ins for naps at the weekend;
  • Avoiding caffeine six hours before bedtime;
  • Taking exercise; and
  • Skipping foods that are too high in fat or sugar in the evening or drinking alcohol.