Lack of sleep can lead to obesity

Sleep deprivation can lead to obesity. CC by Mikael Häggström/Wikimedia Commons

Getting enough sleep can be a tough challenge. Two new studies show that a lack of sleep means bad health. Children who do not have regular sleep have a higher risk of obesity. By getting enough sleep, adults can also improve their memory function.

How sleep and obesity connect

Researchers studied the sleep habits of 300 children, ages 4 to 10 years old. The researchers found that, on average, children who got irregular sleep were more likely to be obese. This was not necessarily children who got too little sleep, but children who slept more or less on various days of the week. The lead researcher on the study commented on these results. He said, “We think that the direction of the arrow is you sleep less, you eat more, you exercise less because you’re tired, and therefore you gain more weight.”

How sleep and memory connect

There was another sleep study published in the Nature Neuroscience. German scientists discovered that subjects who took naps right after studying would retain 25 percent more information than other subjects. One theory is that memories are “downloaded” during sleep to be put in the long-term part of the brain after being put in the short-term part originally. In short, sleep helps cement memories.

The more sleep you get, the better

For many people young and old, getting enough sleep is difficult. For school-aged children and adolescents, nine hours or more per night is usually recommended. Adults should get between 8 and 10 hours. This is considered “enough” by most. In general, getting enough sleep should mean sleeping until you naturally wake up. It is possible to “catch up” on your sleep, too. Catching up on sleep over the weekend can help reduce risk of obesity between 280 percent and 400 percent.



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