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Can a lack of sleep cause weight gain?

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Can a lack of sleep cause weight gain?     cant-sleep.jpg

This is a really interesting question. 

One of the better summaries we've seen comes from Harvard. In this article, they summarize a number of studies which tried to answer this question.

The evidence looks pretty strong that a lack of sleep can cause weight gain, or can at least be an important factor in weight gain:

The largest and longest study to date on adult sleep habits and weight is the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed 68,000 middle-age American women for up to 16 years. Compared to women who slept seven hours a night, women who slept five hours or less were 15 percent more likely to become obese over the course of the study.

 Another study concluded:

But not getting enough sleep is known to impair mental function and increase the risk for heart disease, among other ill effects. Accumulating evidence also suggests that even short-term, partial sleep deprivation could pave the way for weight gain and other negative metabolic consequences.

So what can we do to get more sleep and avoid weight gain and other health problems that a lack of sleep can cause? Here are a few ideas:

Identify causes - It's important to first understand why it is that you re not sleeping well. Is it too much late-night TV? Eating meals or drinking coffee late in the evening? Noise? Stress? Is it related to a health issue, such an pain?

Address Problems Directly - A chat with your doctor may be in order if there is an ongoing health issue that is causing you to lose valuable sleep time. For example, neck pain can be easily addressed with a new pillow. Back pain can be addressed with back pain patches (plus, if you're not swallowing pain medicines, you avoid any chance of stomach upset keeping you up at night!). 

Stick With What Works - Finding the right solution for sleeplessness can be a lengthy series of trials and errors, especially if the cause is unknown. Sometime an inexpensive, simple solution, like a pain patch, can make all the difference between a lack of sleep and a full night's sleep. But once you find that combination of solutions to your problem, then stick with it! You'll get more sleep, and avoid health problems now and in the future. 

Pleasant Dreams!