According to researchers from the University of Leeds in West Yorkshire, England, adults who have poor sleep patterns are more likely to be overweight and obese and have poorer metabolic health such as diabetes-major health challenges facing the NHS.
The findings showed that people, who were sleeping an average of six hours a night, had a waist measurement that was three cm greater than individuals who were getting nine hours of sleep a night.
Lead study author Dr Laura Hardie said that not only the team looked at the links between sleep duration, diet and weight, but also other indicators of overall metabolic health such as blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugar and thyroid function.
They analysed 1,615 adults who reported how long they slept and kept records of food intake.
The participants had blood samples taken and their weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure recorded.
Another researcher Greg Potter said that obesity contributes to the development of many diseases, most notably Type-2 diabetes.
Shorter sleep was also linked to reduced levels of HDL cholesterol in the participants' blood-another factor that can cause health problems.
HDL cholesterol is 'good' cholesterol that helps remove 'bad' fat from the circulation. In doing so, high HDL cholesterol levels protect against conditions such as heart disease.
Senior study author Dr Laura Hardie said that because they found that adults who reported sleeping less than their peers were more likely to be overweight or obese, their findings highlight the importance of getting enough sleep.
"How much sleep we need differs between people, but the current consensus is that seven to nine hours is best for most adults," Hardie added.
The results appear in the journal PLOS ONE.
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