Sleep and Weight, part 2

If your parents or siblings are heavy, how can you stay slim?  How can you beat your genes?

I previously wrote that inadequate sleep may contribute to weight gain.  A new study explored the relationship between sleep and weight with a registry of identical twins, who always share genetic material.  Researchers looked at the standard measure of height for a given weight (BMI) and reported sleep duration. Those who slept less than 7 hours per night were significantly heavier.  Even more interestingly, the less a twin slept, the more his or her obesity seemed driven by genetic factors.  The more a twin slept, the more independent his or her weight was of genetic influences.

As I cautioned in my previous discussion of sleep and weight, in observational studies such as this, we cannot prove that more sleep leads to lower weight; we can only observe a correlation.  However, I think this study provides another reason to think that inadequate sleep drives weight gain, especially in those whose genes predispose them to obesity.

So, consider sleeping more.  Aim for at least seven hours per night.  If you are like most people, though, you will require eight or nine hours of sleep per night to function at your peak.