It's rare in health science that a hypothesis stands up under multiple studies in multiple population groups done over a long period of time. It's as close as we can come to "proving" anything about human health and behavior, with all its damnable complexities.
But a study appearing in the May 1 issue of the journal Sleep--at least form where I sit--pretty much nails down the link between insufficient sleep and being fat.
Listen carefully: Do you hear it? Yup, that's what a "slam dunk" sounds like.
Three things you need to know
1. The current study is a "meta-analysis"--a study of all relevant research into the topic. Forty-five studies published over the past 25 years with a total of 634,000 participants, world-wide and cross-culture, were considered relevant and comparable. Participants ranged from age 2 to 102, and included men, women, boys and girls. Across this vast swath of humanity, there was a consistent link between what are called "short sleepers" and overweight and obesity.
2. Oh, all right, there is one caveat. It's not clear whether obesity creates the sleep problems or short sleep creates the obesity.
3. Still, the message is clear: If you want to have a healthy body weight, make sure you get enough sleep--7 to 8 hours of sleep for adults, 9 for adolescents and school-age kids 10 to 11 hours. And if you're not getting enough sleep, be aware that you're at higher risk for being overweight or obese--and all the diseases associated with it (heart disease, diabetes, depression and more).
You know the drill: We have plenty of resources here at MySleepCentral--medical experts, patient experts, and civilians dealing with sleep difficulties themselves. Make sure you see best practices for healthy sleep.
For the obesity part of the equation, our MyDietExercise area has a lot of useful resources too.