Is losing sleep making us obese?

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SummaryObesity has become pandemic. In America, as obesity has increased, the amount of sleep Americans get per night has decreased, and studies are now showing an association. Epidemiological studies on short sleep duration (SSD) and obesity have been conducted in children and adults, and show an overall positive association. Leptin and ghrelin, two hormones that control appetite, have been studied as a mechanism for SSD causing obesity. Low leptin and high ghrelin levels have been seen in sleep deprivation, the effect of which is an increase in appetite that could be linked to obesity. Decreasing media use, namely television and computers, could be one way to increase nightly sleep and potentially help people lose weight. Paediatric studies have shown an association with bedroom media use and shorter sleep duration. Adult studies are lacking in this area. Limitations in the literature include self-report in a majority of sleep studies and only a suggested causal link between SSD and obesity among all of the epidemiological studies. In conclusion, obesity is a global problem with great complexity. Encouraging people to get more sleep could be one part of the solution to help them lose weight and gain health.

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