| Too Much And Too Little Sleep
Tied To Diminished Health
People who sleep
fewer than six hours a night or more than nine are
more likely to be obese, according to a new government study that
is one of the largest to show a link between irregular sleep and
The study also linked light sleepers to higher smoking
rates, less physical activity and more alcohol use.
The research adds weight to a stream of studies that have found
obesity and other health problems in those who don't get proper
shuteye, said Dr. Ron Kramer, a Colorado
physician and a spokesman for the American
Academy of Sleep Medicine.
"The data is all coming together that short sleepers and long
sleepers don't do so well," Kramer said.
The study released Wednesday is based on door-to-door surveys
of 87,000 U.S. adults from 2004 through 2006 conducted by the
for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
Such surveys can't prove cause-effect relationships, so
for example it's not clear if smoking causes sleeplessness
or if sleeplessness prompts smoking, said Charlotte Schoenborn,
the study's lead author.
It also did not account for the influence of other factors, such
as depression, which can contribute to heavy eating, smoking,
sleeplessness and other problems.
Smoking was highest for people who got under six hours of sleep,
with 31 percent saying they were current smokers. Those who got
nine or more hours also were big puffers, with 26 percent smoking.
The overall U.S. smoking rate is about 21 percent. For those
in the study who sleep seven to eight hours, the rate was lower,
at 18 percent.
Results were similar, though a bit less dramatic, for obesity:
About 33 percent of those who slept less than six hours were obese,
and 26 percent for those who got nine or more. Normal sleepers
were the thinnest group, with obesity at 22 percent.
For alcohol use, those who slept the least were the biggest drinkers.
However, alcohol use for those who slept seven to eight hours
and those who slept nine hours or more was similar.
In another measure, nearly half of those who slept nine hours
or more each night were physically inactive in their leisure time,
which was worse even than the lightest sleepers and the proper
sleepers. Many of those who sleep nine hours or more may have
serious health problems that make exercise difficult.
Many elderly people are in the group who get the least sleep,
which would help explain why physical activity rates are low.
Those skimpy sleepers who are younger may still feel too tired
to exercise, experts said.
psychological problems may explain what's going on with some of
the lighter sleepers, experts said.
Other studies have found inadequate sleep is tied to appetite-influencing
hormone imbalances and a higher incidence of diabetes and high
blood pressure, noted James Gangwisch, a respected Columbia
University sleep researcher.
"We're getting to the point that they may start recommending
getting enough sleep as a standard approach to weight loss and
the prevention of obesity," said Gangwisch, who was not involved
in the study.