Lack of sleep 'contributes to weight gain'

24 October 2011

A lack of sleep could heighten the risk of being obese which may require weight-loss surgery, a recent study shows.

Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine Sleep Center in Houston, Texas found that teens who sleep less than eight hours per night may be more likely to gain weight and have a higher level Body Mass Index (BMI).

The study was presented at CHEST 2011, the 77th annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians. Findings included that teens who do not get the recommended amount of nightly sleep may also consume more calories when they are awake compared to those who have a regular and healthy sleep pattern.

Author of the study Lata Casturi said: "Sleep is food for the brain. When teens do not get enough sleep, they fall asleep in class, struggle to concentrate, look and feel stressed, get sick more often and do not meet their obligations due to tiredness."

She added that a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke can also be linked to a lack of sleep.

The researchers also found that hormones leptin and ghrelin work to tell the body when it is full or when more food is required.

Leptin sends signals to the brain when a person is full but this is driven down by ghrelin which reacts when the body is overtired, causing a person to eat more.

By Philip Briggs


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