For many women, the most distressing study about sleep produced headlines that read “Insomnia Makes You Fat.” It’s true that the Nurses’ Health Study showed that women who sleep less than seven hours nightly gained more weight over a period of 16 years than women who slept seven hours or more. But the weight gain was moderate. Women who slept five hours or less nightly gained an average of about five pounds more than women who slept for seven hours, and women who slept six hours gained about a pound and a half more. The study points to seven hours -- not eight! -- as a good baseline. And it’s not as if you will wake up one morning after a restless night and suddenly find yourself so big that you need to be hoisted out of your bed with a harness and crane. As always, the best course is to check in with yourself. Do you find yourself eating a lot more (especially chocolate, which contains caffeine) when you sleep less? Do you lose weight when you get more sleep? If so, you can decide on a rational course of action. If not, don’t worry about it.
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