Gaining too much weight? Try sleeping more

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If obesity is in your genes, the likelihood of you getting fat is higher if you sleep less

MANILA, Philippines – Contrary to popular belief, sleeping too much does not make you fat.

In fact, if obesity is in your genes, the likelihood of you getting fat is higher if you sleep less, a new study released by the American Academy of Sleep Science shows.

The study, which examined the relationship between sleep duration and the body mass index (BMI) of 1,088 pairs of twins, showed that sleeping less than 7 hours a night is associated with both increased BMI and greater genetic influences on BMI.

“The results suggest that shorter sleep provides a more permissive environment for the expression of obesity related genes,” said principal investigator Nathaniel Watson, MD, MSc, of the University of Washington.

Suppressing your fat genes

The other possibility, Watson added, is that “extended sleep is protective by suppressing expression of obesity genes.”

Genetic or hereditary influences, according to previous research, include things like glucose metabolism, energy use, fatty acid storage and satiety or the level at which a person feels he is already full to or beyond capacity.

In the new study, the heritability of BMI was twice as high for the short sleepers than for twins who slept longer than 9 hours a night.

Watson and his colleagues determined that for twins sleeping less than 7 hours, genetic influences accounted for 70% of the differences in BMI, with common environment accounting for just 4% and unique environment 26%.

Sleep more, slim down more

For twins averaging more than 9 hours of sleep, genetic factors were attributed to 32% of weight variations, with common environment accounting for 51% and unique environment 17%.

More research is needed, Watson said.

What the preliminary results indicate, however, is that if you are one of those unfortunates who are predisposed to get fat, your efforts to lose weight will likely be more effective if you suppress your obesity genes by sleeping more.

Visit this link for a copy of the AASM press release on this study. –

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