Study: Men's Flab Linked to Lack of Sleep

ByABC News
August 16, 2000, 4:41 AM

C H I C A G O, Aug. 16 -- Heres some news that could keep middle-aged men awake nights: A lack of quality sleep may contribute to love handles and double chins.

Researchers at the University of Chicago found what appears tobe a link between middle-age spread and mens sleep patterns asthey get older.

They found that the quality of mens sleep decreases with agealong with the bodys production of growth hormone. The drop ingrowth hormone, in turn, is thought to lead to flab.

Looking for Answers

Now, the researchers are working to see if new types of sleepingpills or hormone injections can slow signs of aging.

We actually know that if we increase deep sleep, we canincrease growth hormone, said Eve Van Cauter, a professor ofmedicine who led the study, published in Wednesdays Journal of theAmerican Medical Association.

The study of beauty sleep was limited to healthy men, and it isnot clear whether the findings apply to women.

Van Cauter and her team looked at sleep studies conducted on 149men from 1985 to 1999. They found that by the time men reach age45, they have nearly lost the ability to fall into deep sleep.

Men produce growth hormone primarily during that kind of sleep.In studies of the elderly, growth hormone deficiency has beenconnected to obesity and the loss of muscle mass.

Losing Deep Sleep

The men involved in the sleep studies were of normal weight andranged in age from 16 to 83. Researchers found that as the menmoved into mid-life, from ages 35 to 50, their total amount ofsleep remained fairly constant.

The amount of deep, or slow-wave, sleep, however, decreased fromnearly 20 percent of a normal nights sleep for men 25 or youngerto less than 5 percent for those over 35. Growth hormone secretiondeclined by nearly 75 percent.

The study also found that after age 50, mens total amount ofsleep declined by about 27 minutes a decade. They awoke morefrequently during the night and stayed awake longer.