Sleeping less than 7 hours a night may make you fatter, study finds

LEEDS, England — A night of poor sleep can make you bleary-eyed the next day, but when it happens regularly, it may also contribute to making you fatter. A new study finds people who lack sufficient shut-eye — particularly those who sleep less than seven hours a night — are at a greater risk of obesity, along with a host of other maladies linked to heart health.

Researchers at the University of Leeds studied 1,615 adults, all of whom reported their sleep and eating patterns. Participants also had their weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure levels recorded, as the researchers looked at how these variables were affected by a night’s rest.

Woman sleeping in bed
A new study finds that people who don’t get enough sleep regularly are more likely to have larger waistlines and at a greater risk of heart disease.

Overall, the health outcomes associated with a poor quantity or quality of sleep were telling.

For example, individuals who slept an average of six hours a night had waist measurements three centimeters greater than those who got slept nine hours a night.

“Because we found that adults who reported sleeping less than their peers were more likely to be overweight or obese, our findings highlight the importance of getting enough sleep. How much sleep we need differs between people, but the current consensus is that seven to nine hours is best for most adults,” says lead researcher Dr. Laura Hardie in a news release.

Worse sleep patterns were also linked to a lower incidence of HDL, or good cholesterol, which can remove bad fat from one’s circulation.

Interestingly, the researchers found no link between shortened shut-eye and a poor diet, which came as a surprise.

While this study’s findings provide insight into the broad effects of sleep on metabolic health, it should not be mistaken for a longitudinal study.

Still, it demonstrates the overall benefits of rest, with the researchers adding that seven-to-nine hours a night is the sweet spot for most adults.

“The number of people with obesity worldwide has more than doubled since 1980,” emphasizes researcher Greg Potter. “Obesity contributes to the development of many diseases, most notably type 2 diabetes. Understanding why people gain weight has crucial implications for public health.”

The study’s findings were published Thursday in the journal PLOS One.


  1. One thing I’ve learned in the engineering field is that one can often misunderstand data. Getting cause and effect correctly can be tricky. How do you know its not the other way around, people getting fat are prone to sleep less?

  2. Maybe this study is flawed or there are major exceptions. Donald Trump sleeps about 4 hours a night. He’s in perfect health and working hard at making America great again.

  3. They forgot to add that drinking reduces Diabetes, Red Wine is good, bad, Good, Bad, Good………………Drinking to much coffee is Good, Bad, Good, Bad, Really bad oh wait its really good, Chocolate is bad, good, bad, really good, unbelievably good, really really BAD………..Life itself is really, really , really dangerous and you will die in the end anyway. Did I miss anything?

    1. Regarding “drinking reduces diabetes”… diabetics naturally drink more because they become thirsty. Diabetes causes more urination, which makes a person dehydrated and thus thisty. Any study that doesn’t factor that into the “research” is flawed from the beginning.

  4. Of course those who sleep less than 7 hours per night are fat. They have more awake time to eat. That statement is no more stupid than this study. Where in the world to the Brits get these ‘researchers’? Probably from the same freak farm the US does. At least they don’t have the gall to call them scientists.

  5. Those nights I get less than 7 hours sleep are the nights I’m sitting in my recliner snacking and drinking beer while watching TV. I’m assuming THAT’S what causes the obesity, not the lack of sleep, per se.

  6. When I get less than 7 hours of sleep I eat a lot more and I eat badly. I eat junk that I wouldn’t usually even touch if I got 8 hours of sleep. It’s like I have no self control with my eating when I don’t get enough sleep.

  7. This ‘super-scientific’ “study” brought to you by mattress, pillow, and bedding manufacturers.

  8. Simply explained: more waking hours, more time to eat. (Most people don’t eat while sleeping.)

  9. Health young Marines get about 5 or 6 hours sleep a night during bootcamp. They don’t seem overweight or suffering from any health issues. Maybe these people are older, less healthy to begin with. Maybe no exercise and poor eating habits. The poor sleeping patterns could have been a result of health issues not the other way around.

  10. Sleep average 5 hrs a night same weight I was at 18 now 52.
    Get bent with your BS studies, no two humans are the same.

  11. There might be something to this… I have been trying to loose weight, and have cut myself down to 1500 calories per day. I am not loosing anything. I also make sure to only get 6 hours of sleep a night because that is what I was taught is the amount of sleep you need, and I figured that logically, you would burn more calories being awake… Maybe I’ll try getting some extra sleep and see if that changes anything.

  12. people are obese simply because there is no war, pestilence, famine or disaster in their lives…..the reason for this is because the white anglosaxon race invented science, medicine, economics and democracy which eliminated 85% of traditional suffering in the world. Without suffering people have nothing to do but eat. Reintroduce war, pestilence, disease and hardship and people will lose weight and become lean…..until that happens expect obeisty to engulf 90% of the population.

    1. Unfortunately you are correct and to add to what was called traditional suffering, the life span of the average human would be reduced as well.

  13. “this study’s findings provide insight into the broad effects of sleep on metabolic health,”

    I don’t think this is a true statement, at least based in the reporting.

    There is no demonstrated “link” only a correlation. Correlation does not imply cause and effect. This finding raises questions and may warrant further research but does not, by itself, provide any particular insight.

  14. As a seasoned citizen, the fact that I can’t sleep through the night without having to get up and urinate doesn’t help either. A lot of us older guys have this problem. It’s probably a contributing factor as to why we die before women. Even though I go back to bed immediately after, that interruption greatly affects my sleep.

  15. Or maybe it was WHAT they were eating. When they claim lack of sleep lowers good cholesterol is when I get suspicious … these people were eating low fat high carb diets which is why they are obese and have heart problems.

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