Sleeping less than 7 hours a night may mean that people are eating and drinking more

Sleeping less than 7 hours a night may mean that people are eating and drinking moreSleeping less than 7 hours a night may mean that people are eating and drinking more, contributing to obesity, says research published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

The study focused on a new aspect of the association between sleep and obesity: whether short sleep is linked to more time spent in secondary eating or drinking.

"Secondary eating and drinking" refers to eating or drinking beverages other than water, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, while primarily engaged in another activity, such as watching television.

Dr. Gabriel S. Tajeu, of the University of Alabama, Birmingham's (UAB) Department of Epidemiology, and colleagues studied data from 28,150 American adults.

Those who reported short sleep also engaged in secondary eating for an additional 8.7 minutes a day, as well as an additional 28.6 minutes daily of secondary drinking on weekdays and 31.28 minutes on weekends.

Other studies have shown that building up a sleep debt over a matter of days can impair metabolism and disrupt hormone levels. Studies restricting healthy young adults' sleep for a few nights have shown that the body's ability to process glucose in the blood declines, in some cases to the level of diabetes.

Healthy adults who average 6.5 hours of sleep or less have been shown to experience hormonal changes that could affect their future body weight and impair their long-term health. For these people to normalize their blood sugar levels, they would need to make 30% more insulin than normal sleepers. Despite not yet being overweight, these individuals' profiles predispose them to become so.

The study authors conclude: "Short sleep is associated with more time spent in secondary eating and, in particular, secondary drinking. This potentially suggests a pathway from short sleep to increased caloric intake in the form of beverages and distracted eating and thus potential increased obesity risk."

Via: Medical News Today
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