The study from Uppsala University showed that women who have a hard time sleeping are especially at risk, reported local newspaper Upsala Nya Tidning (UNT).
“The less sleep women reported, the larger their bulk. The connection between sleeping too little and abdominal fat was strongest for women below 50 years of age,” said researcher Jenny Theorell-Haglöw to UNT.
People who slept less than five hours a night were shown to have a belly bulk which often exceeded the medicinal limit, after which coronary diseases become far more likely.
The connection between poor sleep and abdominal fat remained even after checking for risk factors, such as an unusually sedentary life, which was common among both those who slept unusually little and those who slept much longer than average.
“There are several possible explanations. One is that too little sleep affects the production of cortisol and growth hormones in a way that contributes to increased fat storage in the abdomen. Another is that less sleeping time also means that you have more time awake, and more time to eat,” said Theorell-Haglöw.