Be it beauty rest or power nap, everyone needs a little sleep sometimes. Scientists say it keeps memories sharp and prevents mood swings moods. But it turns out catching enough Zzs is about more than mental health. A recent study found children who don't get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight Longitudinal analysis of sleep in relation to BMI and body fat in children: the FLAME study. Carter, P., Taylor, B.J., Williams, S.M., et al. Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. British Medical Journal 2011;342(2712)..

From A to Zzzzzzzzzzz – Analysis

In the study, researchers observed a group of 244 children between three and seven years old. At the end of four years, researchers found the children who slept more had a significantly lower risk of becoming overweight or obese. After further analyzing diet, exercise, and sleep habits over that period, researchers in the study found Body Mass Index decreased by 0.48 with each additional hour of sleep.

But the sleep-weight connection doesn’t end with childhood. Research suggests that amount of sleep affects adults’ weight, too Association between reduced sleep and weight gain in women. Patel, SR., Malhotra, A., White, DP., et al. Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA. American Journal of Epidemiology 2006 Nov 15;164(10):947-54.. One study found women who slept five hours per night had an increased chance of gaining weight or becoming obese compared to those who slept seven hours per night. In some people, sleep deprivation might even be a risk factor for obesity Sleep deprivation as a risk factor for obesity. Chamorro, R.A., Durán, S.A., Reyes, S.C. et al. Revista médica de Chile 2011;139(7):932-40.. And it looks like we should avoid browsing Tastespotting after pulling an all-nighter: After a night of sleep loss, the brain region that controls appetite lights up more in response to images of food Acute Sleep Deprivation Enhances the Brain’s Response to Hedonic Food stimuli: An fMRI Study. Benedict, C., Brooks, S.J., O’Daly, O.G., et al. Departments of Neuroscience, Radiology, and Psychology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden; Department of Neuroimaging, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, London, United Kingdom; Interdisciplinary Obesity Center, Katonsspital St. Gallen, Switzerland; Department of Neuroendocrinonlogy, University of Lubeck, Lubeck, Germany. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 2012. Epub ahead of print.. (Try getting some rest and then tackling the temptation…)

TL;DR

Stop feeling guilty about hitting the snooze button. Studies show missing out on those Zzs can lead to weight gain.

Updated January 2012

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