BEIJING: New research shows that having trouble sleeping means more possibility to gain weight for middle-aged women, according to reports.
The new findings, which were reported in the International Journal of Obesity, strengthen the evidence that sleep problems are related to weight gain.
Finnish researchers, led by Peppi Lyytikainen of the University of Helsinki, followed more than 7,300 40- to 60-year-old adults for seven years. They found that women who reported significant sleep problems at the outset generally put on more weight over time than women who slept well.
Roughly one-third of the women with frequent sleep problems gained at least 11 pounds, versus about a fifth of the women with no sleep difficulties at the outset.
While the findings do not prove cause-and-effect, they raise the possibility that improving sleep quality might help stave off excess weight gain, Lyytikainen said.
The 17 percent of men who reported sleep problems were no more likely to gain weight than those who slept without difficulty.
The reason for the disparate findings for men and women is unclear, according to the research team. But it might be related to the fact that the study included a smaller number of men than women -- 1,300 versus more than 5,700 -- which may have made any potential effect among men harder to detect.
Some earlier studies assessed people at one point in time, so it was hard to know which came first, the sleep problems or the excess pounds.
A few studies have followed people over time, but they've disagreed about whether poor sleep is linked to expanding waistlines.
For this new research, there is evidence that sleep loss alters people's levels of the appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin -- which could, in theory, spur them to overeat.
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