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Sleep Longer: You May Gain Less Weight From Genetic Factors

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if you sleep longer you may have less weight gain due to genetics Adam Gault/Photodisc/Thinkstock

Here’s some really pleasant news for those fond of sleeping. Research from University of Washington suggests that people who sleep more are less likely to put on weight, as genetic factors that influence obesity are suppressed with longer hours of snooze time. (1)

The study which was conducted on 1088 pairs of twins found that those sleeping for fewer than seven hours in the 24-hour cycle were more likely to have higher body mass index (BMI) coupled with greater genetic influence over higher BMI.

Body mass index, though a rough-and-ready measure, is a key index that relates your weight to your height. A woman is considered overweight if she has a BMI ofmore than 25 and obese of she has a BMI index of more than 30. (2)

Earlier research had shown that genetic influences such as glucose metabolism, energy use, fatty acid storage and satiety affect weight gain. But this was the first study that exhibited genetic heritability of BMI as an influential factor.

In fact, it was found that the heritability of BMI was twice as high for the short sleepers than for twins who slept longer than nine hours a night.

According to Nathaniel Watson, MD, MSc, the lead researcher and author of the study, “The results suggest that shorter sleep provides a more permissive environment for the expression of obesity related genes. Or it may be that extended sleep is protective by suppressing expression of obesity genes.” (3)

Here are some interesting findings of the study expressed in numbers: (Study Summary)

• Twins who slept an average of less than seven hours a day showed:
o 70 percent genetic influence in the differences in BMI
o 4 percent of the BMI variation was due to common environment
o 26 percent was attributable to unique environment

• Twins who averaged more than nine hours of sleep a day showed:
o 32 percent genetic influence on BMI variations
o Common environment accounted for 51 percent of the difference in weight gain
o Unique environment contributed 17 percent to weight variations

It was agreed that more research needs to be done covering various age groups, ethnicities etc to corroborate the conclusions of this study. However, the preliminary results did suggest that behavioral weight loss measures would be most effective when genetic drivers of body weight are reduced through sleep extension.


1. Longer Sleep Times May Counteract Genetic Factors Related to Weight Gain; Science Daily News; Web May 2012; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120501085702.htm

2. Calculate Your Body Mass Index; National Heart, Lung And Blood Institute; Web May 2012; http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmi-m.htm

3. Longer Sleep Times May Counteract Genetic Factors Related To Weight Gain; American Academy of Sleep Medicine; Web May 2012; http://www.aasmnet.org/articles.aspx?id=3043

Study summary may be accessed at:
1. Sleep Duration and Body Mass Index in Twins: A Gene-Environment Interaction; SLEEP; Web May 2012; http://www.journalsleep.org/ViewAbstract.aspx?pid=28504


Mamta Singh is a published author of the books Migraines for the Informed Woman – Tips From A Sufferer: ISBN: 978-81-291-1517-1 (Publisher: Rupa & Co. URL: http://www.amazon.com/Migraines-Informed-Woman-Tips-Sufferer/dp/8129115174/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1298990756&sr=1-2), Mentor Your Mind – Tested Mantras For The Busy Woman: ISBN: 978-81-207-5973-2 (Publisher: Sterling Publishers; URL: http://www.amazon.com/Mentor-Your-Mind-Tested-Mantras/dp/8120759737/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1316063179&sr=8-1) and the upcoming Women’s Complete Fitness Guide (Publisher: Hay House India).

She is also a seasoned business, creative and academic writer. She is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer & sports nutritionist through IFA, Florida USA. Mamta is an NCFE-certified Holistic Health Therapist SAC Dip U.K. She is the lead writer and holds Expert Author status in many well-received health, fitness and nutrition sites.

She runs her own popular blogs on migraines in women and holistic health. Mamta holds a double Master's Degree in Commerce and Business. She is a registered practitioner with the UN recognised Art of Living Foundation. Please visit www.mamtasingh.com/

Reviewed June 11, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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