Poor Sleep Habits Might Make Losing Weight More Difficult

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Diet and exercise have long been hailed as the two main factors in weight loss, but a new study shows that poor sleep habits can hinder fat loss despite attempts at working out or eating healthy foods.

Especially in those who are genetically predispositioned to obesity, improper or “abnormal” sleeping habits can be the reason that weight loss is so difficult for some. The University of Glasgow performed a study to determine the effects of different sleeping patterns on the weight of an individual, and enlisted over 120,000 participants to monitor and study.

Credit: Timothy Krause/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

While many medical professionals and the people behind the National Sleep Foundation recommend getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night, this advice is not followed by the population at large. In fact, the Center for Disease Control states that one in every three people does not get the recommended amount of sleep each night. The side effects of too little sleep are many, but getting too much sleep can also present issues of its own.

The study took both scenarios into account, gauging the effects of both short and long sleep. Short sleep was defined as less than seven hours a night, and long sleep more than nine hours. Daytime napping was also taken into account.

Related: Your Creativity Could Affect How Much You Sleep

In both instances of short and long sleep, people who had a genetic predisposition to obesity were far more likely to carry excess weight than those who got the recommended amount of sleep. These normal sleeping habits carried the power to make or break a person’s success in losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight, regardless of the person’s nutrition or exercise habits. The people who slept too long (more than nine hours a night) weighed, on average, 14 pounds more than the normal sleepers. In those who slept shorter than seven hours a night, there was an average of 4.5 pounds carried in excess.

While the participants who were genetically predisposed showed negative effects in both short and long sleep, those who were not genetically predisposed showed no effect in either situation. However, the negative effects of abnormal sleeping patterns affected all genetically predisposed, regardless of race, gender, eating habits or exercise patterns.

“It appears that people with high genetic risk for obesity need to take more care about lifestyle factors to maintain a healthy body weight,” said Dr. Carlos Celis, co-author of the study. “Our data suggest that sleep is another factor which needs to be considered, alongside diet and physical activity.”

A person’s weight depends on many things, and genetic predisposition does fall under some suspicion as a cause. While it can be more of an issue for some, the majority of the reason for obesity still lies with lifestyle factors. It is important to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and get proper sleep. All three play important roles in maintaining a healthy weight.

Related: Something Interesting Happens to Our Brains While We Sleep

Marissa DiPietro
Marissa is a health and fitness writer from the Tampa Bay area. In addition to researching the latest trending topics, she enjoys instructing kickboxing classes and posting incessantly to her Instagram account.
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