Quit your mombie ways - your waistline will thank you

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If you're a mombie (a mum who stays up late despite being exhausted because it's kid-free time), here's a compelling reason to switch off Netflix and head to bed earlier: it's better for your waistline.

That's according to new research published in the journal PLOS One which found that adults who clocked around six hours of sleep per night had a waist measurement three centimetres bigger than those getting nine hours of shut eye.

And the difference didn't end there: those catching fewer Zs also had a higher BMI.

"Short sleep is increasingly common in many countries," said lead author Dr Laura Hardie of Leeds University, in a statement. "Findings from an analysis of around 250,000 sleep questionnaires worldwide suggest that sleep duration on workdays has declined by about 37 minutes in the last decade." 

To explore the impact of shorter sleep duration on a range of health measures (blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood sugar, and thyroid function), Dr Hardie and her team asked 1,600 adults in the UK to track how long they slept, as well as their daily diet. Study participants had blood taken, and their weight, waist circumference and blood pressure also recorded.

Results indicated that those who slept 5.9 hours per night had an average waist circumference of 37.4 inches and an average BMI of 28.6. By contrast, those clocking 8.4 hours a night had an average waist circumference of 35.8 inches and an average BMI of 27.1.

As well as higher BMIs and weight circumference measures, those with shorter sleep duration also had reduced levels of HDL cholesterol in their blood. According to the researchers, HDL cholesterol is 'good' cholesterol that helps remove 'bad' fat from the circulation- protecting against conditions such as a heart disease.  

There's a silver lining however: much to the research team's surprise, they didn't find a link between getting fewer hours of sleep and eating a less healthy diet - something other studies have consistently reported. The researchers note that the difference may be due to participants self-reporting their diet in the study, and not doing so accurately, which may have had an impact on the results.

Researcher, Greg Potter said of the findings: "The number of people with obesity worldwide has more than doubled since 1980. Obesity contributes to the development of many diseases, most notably type 2 diabetes. Understanding why people gain weight has crucial implications for public health."

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Speaking to Fox News Potter elaborated: "The message we hope that people take away is that prioritising getting enough sleep may be an important part of minimising your risk for obesity and the health problems associated with it, as is true of consuming a balanced diet and being physically active."

It's a message Dr Hardie echoes.

"Because we found that adults who reported sleeping less than their peers were more likely to be overweight or obese, our findings highlight the importance of getting enough sleep," she said.

"How much sleep we need differs between people, but the current consensus is that seven to nine hours is best for most adults."