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Women Gain Weight From Lack Of Sleep

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

May 24, 2006

Could there be a link between sleep and the rising numbers on the scale? New research suggests that women who don't get enough shuteye are more likely to gain weight.

"I exercise four mornings a week on the treadmill," said Catherine Truslow.

She also eats very healthy, yet Truslow can't keep the weight off.

"Within the last two years you've gained 10 pounds," Dr. Christopher Winter explained. He believes it's because she doesn't get enough sleep at night.

"Dysfunctional sleep really changes the body’s chemistry," said Dr. Winter, the Martha Jefferson Sleep Center Director.

Truslow isn't alone. A new study shows this happens to many women. Researchers found that middle-aged women who get less than five hours of sleep a night gained an average of thirty-three pounds over time.

Doctors think sleeping less affects a person's basal metabolic rate. It's the number of calories you burn when your body is at rest.

"People who have underlying sleep problems; when they find that they're fixed, often find that their metabolism changes or their ability gain or their ability to lose weight is enhanced," said Dr. Winter.

Dr. Winter said the key is to get enough sleep that night to make you feel refreshed in the morning.

"The average is somewhere between probably six and a half to seven to eight [hours of sleep], somewhere in there but it's a very unique number to that individual," Dr. Winter said.

By treating Truslow's sleep problem, it will have a positive effect on her health.

"It's not going to be surprising to me that when I see [Truslow] in six months or whenever the next time period would be, that [sheshe will have lost weight," said Dr. Winter.

That's exactly what Truslow wants to hear. "I am a nurse, I try to be good," said Truslow.

Doctors add that sleep-deprived overweight women are at a higher risk of getting diabetes and heart disease.


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