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Research: Link Between BMI And Sleep Patterns

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DETROIT (WWJ) - The benefits of a good night’s sleep to overall health have long been reported. Now, new research has emerged relating to the role gender and weight management play in overall sleep patterns.

The abstract, Gender Differences in a Naturalistic Observational Study of Sleep and BMI, was presented during a poster session at the annual Obesity Society meeting in Orlando, Florida.

The observational study, which was conducted by the Northwestern University Comprehensive Center on Obesity and BodyMedia Inc., sheds new light on the relationship between BMI and sleep between gender and weight classes. Results from the study provide additional insights into the differences between men and women’s sleep times and how their weight can impact the amount of sleep they get.

The purpose of the study was to evaluate differences between genders and sleep duration across a wide range of BMI categories using information taken from users wearing the BodyMedia FIT™ Armband. It represents one of the largest epidemiological studies to illustrate a link between BMI and sleep using actual measurements taken from the body.

Key findings:

  • Although there is wide variation, there are significant differences in mean sleep time between certain BMI categories.
  • Gender is an important factor in explaining the relationship between sleep and BMI.
  • Overall, people with higher BMIs had less sleep, but the increase in weight and sleep is more closely related in women than men.
  • Among adults in the BMI range of 18.5 to 40, women get 20 minutes more sleep per night than men on average.
  • The largest difference in sleep time was seen between Class I and Class II obese groups of males, with a decline of 11 minutes for men in Class II. (Class I = BMI of 30-34.9; Class II = BMI of 35-39.9)

“Our twelve years of body monitoring experience has allowed us to amass one of the largest living databases of free-living activity information on people, and we are pleased to provide important insights that can help advance the understanding of obesity and weight management,” Christine Robins, CEO of BodyMedia Inc., said in a release. “This study shows that body monitoring devices can truly help people better understand their bodies to make positive health changes.”

Robins said Americans are unaware of the role sleep plays.

Sleep and weight management are closely linked. A number of previous studies have shown that getting enough sleep is critical in suppressing appetite and maintaining energy. Despite this, only 46%(1) percent of Americans are aware of the link between weight and sleep and only 26%(2) percent consider sleep as a factor in losing weight.

“This study represents an important advancement in the study of sleep and how it is impacted by a person’s weight and the different effect it has on males and females,” Robert F. Kushner, M.D., co-investigator and clinical director of The Northwestern University’s Comprehensive Center on Obesity, said in a release. “People looking to lose weight often take into account calorie consumption and physical activity levels, two very important factors; however, new research like this can play an important role in the obesity dialogue to help educate people interested in losing weight about the role of sleep.”

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