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Another way too little sleep wreaks havoc on your health

Woman sleeping, possible losing weight?

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You exercise regularly. You watch what you eat. But you are still failing to manage your weight.

Maybe lack of sleep is to blame.

According to the Canadian Press, researchers are zeroing in on the ways inadequate sleep can affect one's body weight.

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The authors of a new commentary in the Canadian Medical Association Journal say that fatigue influences the levels of certain hormones involved in regulating hunger, the Canadian Press reports.

More obviously, they note that people who don't get enough sleep tend to eat more at night. Those late-night munchies can seriously thwart your weight-loss plan.

"If [people] want to lose weight, of course at some point they will need to cut some calories," one of the authors Jean-Phillippe Chaput told the news agency. "But if they don't take into account their sleeping patterns, they might fail. They have more chances to fail over the long term."

This advice echoes a Mayo Clinic study released earlier this year that examined the extent to which people's sleep habits affect their food consumption. For that study, researchers in Rochester, Minn., monitored 17 participants in a controlled lab environment for more than a week. Participants ate an average of 549 more calories per day when their sleep was reduced to two-thirds their normal amount. And even though they were awake longer, they did not burn significantly more calories. (Consider your own habits: When was the last time you stayed up late to go for a jog?)

Of course there are plenty of other reasons to sleep well than maintaining a healthy weight. As the Globe's health expert Sheila Wijayasinghe noted last year, a good night's sleep helps boost your immune function, improves concentration and keeps you energized and alert. Inadequate sleep can raise the risk of high blood pressure, weight gain and heart disease. Dr. Wijayasinghe advised that on average, adults need six to nine hours of sleep a night.

Are you getting enough shut-eye?

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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