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Unique study asks whether one extra hour’s sleep can help manage weight and reduce fatigue

A new study by sleep experts at Loughborough University is examining how sleep and weight management are related.

In a first-of-its-kind, the experimental research will look at the link between sleep duration and appetite – and whether one extra hour could lead to better weight management.

Dr Iuliana Hartescu, who is overseeing the project, titled Sleep extension for metabolic health (Sleep to Slim), said: “It is an experimental study, where we manipulate sleep duration by increasing it through a behavioural intervention, and then examining the effects on various metabolic biomarkers.

“We are particularly interested in glucose and insulin regulation, and appetite hormones.”

Large population studies have identified that about 25% of the population are sleeping less than the recommended 7 hours per night.

There are several reasons for this, explained Dr Hartescu, some of which are linked to lifestyle.

“Sleep is perceived as an optional flexible time which can be curtailed in favour of gym, work, or young children,” she said.

“Current evidence indicates that short sleep duration for six hours or less per night – and also disrupted sleep, such as shift workers – can affect metabolism by disrupting glucose regulation, and disrupting appetite hormones.

“These physiological mechanisms could encourage behaviour which leads to weight gain – caused by eating more or eating at inappropriate times, for example.

“In addition, being fatigued and sleepy from short sleep leads to decreased physical activity during the day, which can further exacerbate weight gain.”

The study, which began in the summer of 2017, is currently recruiting men aged between 20 and 50-years-old who regularly get less than six hours sleep a night.

“This is a randomised controlled trial. We are recruiting men,” said Dr Hartescu. “Short sleepers.

“Those who habitually achieve six hours or less per night, and who have at least two significant diabetes risk factors, such as being overweight or obese, hypertensive, or who have parental history of diabetes.”

The participants will have to adapt their sleep patterns for six weeks, based on a number of parameters set by the researchers.

Half will have their sleep increased by one hour-per-night, bringing them in line with what is currently considered optimal sleep duration – about seven to nine hours.

“The central idea is that through this relatively simple lifestyle change – increasing your sleep by one hour, could improve fatigue and sleepiness, and help people become more active in the day.

“We will also look at whether it helps regulate appetite hormones and glucose, and whether people have less time at bedtime to snack inappropriately, therefore aiding weight control, or weight loss.”

To take part in the study, visit the Loughborough University website.

ENDS

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 17/144

Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via www.globelynx.com

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world to study sports-related subjects in the 2017 QS World University Rankings and top in the country for its student experience in the 2016 THE Student Experience Survey.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 6th in the Guardian University League Table 2018, 7th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018 and 10th in The UK Complete University Guide 2018. It was also named Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.

 

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Telephone: 01509 223491