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Study: More sleep could fight weight gain

May 3, 2012

Gannett News Service May 1, 2012

Get enough sleep. It could help you fight a genetic predisposition to gain weight, a study has found.

“The less sleep you get, the more your genes contribute to how much you weigh. The more sleep you get, the less your genes determine how much you weigh,” says Dr. Nathaniel Watson, a neurologist and co-director of the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Center in Seattle, lead author of the study published Tuesday in the journal Sleep.

The study, based on twins to make it easier to consider genetic factors, found:

Those who slept longer at night had lower body mass index, or BMI, based on weight and height, than those sleeping less.  People who sleep less increase their genetic risk of an elevated BMI, Watson says.

For twins averaging more than nine hours of sleep, genetic factors accounted for about 32 percent of weight variations; for those sleeping less than seven hours, genetic factors accounted for 70 percent of weight variations. For those sleeping seven to nine hours, 60 percent of the variation was due to genetic factors. Other factors that affect BMI include environmental ones.

“If you’re trying to lose weight, getting enough sleep gives you a fighting chance,” says sleep expert Jodi Mindell, a psychology professor at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

People were considered to get short sleep if they slept less than seven hours a night; normal sleep if they slept seven to 8.9 hours, long sleep if they slept nine hours or more.

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