Sunday, May 28, 2006

New Weapon in Battle Against Weight Gain: Sleep

In a 16-year study, scientists found the longer you sleep, the less weight you put on, reports CNN. And it doesn't take much. The difference between five hours and seven hours of sleep per night is pretty amazing: 33 pounds or more.

What' more amazing is that women in the study that slept less also ate less, but still managed to gain more weight, said one of the study researchers. While women that slept less exercised slightly less, study researchers told CNN, " it didn't explain the magnitude of our findings.

The study was conducted on 68,183 women by researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. It started in 1986, and then followed up with the women every two years.

According to the CNN report, "those who slept 5 hours or less each night were 32 percent more likely to gain a significant amount of weight (adding 33 pounds or more) and 15 percent more likely to become obese during 16 years of follow-up than women who slept 7 hours each night."

Despite the findings, scientists are at a loss to explain the relationship between sleep and weight gain. The article described to possibilities. One, the right amount of sleep may boost the number of calories that your body burns while resting (the basal metabolic rate).

Another possibility is sleeps relationship to something called "NEAT" (non-exercise associated thermogenesis). In plain English, that means, "involuntary activity such as fidgeting or standing instead of sitting," read the CNN piece. It sounds strange, but people who sleep more do more fidgeting which leads to more burning of calories. Enough to keep 33 pounds off over 16 years? It will take more research to tell.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.