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Sleep patterns 'linked to weight'

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Research suggests that people are more likely to end up overweight if they are light sleepers, even though they tend to be more active during the daytime than those who sleep soundly.

People who have difficulty sleeping can tend to be fairly disorganised, researchers believe, leading to last-minute ‘rushing about’ to get things done, which in turn contributes to stress eating.

The sleep activity and energy expenditure of 14 volunteer nurses at the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington DC were analysed by scientists.

Movement, temperature, body position and other indicators of activity and rest were measured by an arm band worn by each of the participants.

Those identified as ‘short sleepers’ had an average body mass index (BMI) of 28.3 compared with 24.5 for ‘long sleepers’. A normal BMI is within the 18.5 to 24.9 range, overweight is 25 to 29.9, and anyone with a BMI of 30 or above is said to be clinically obese.

The study found that short sleepers were, on average, verging on obese while long sleepers were at the upper end of the normal range.

While the research also revealed that overweight people tended to be more active than their normal counterparts, the extra energy expenditure did not result in weight loss.

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