11:53pm Thursday 23 January 2020

UC lecture: 40 winks to weight loss

Carmel Harrington

UC visiting sleep expert Carmel Harrington will discuss the link between sleep and diet. Photo supplied

In the Healthy Sleep Community Lecture by the Faculty of Health, Australian Sleep Medicine research scientist Carmel Harrington will discuss the link between sleep and diet.

“The research is becoming clear – when we don’t sleep well we are likely to put on weight and find it difficult to lose because if we don’t get enough sleep there is a change in the profile of our appetite hormones. We get an increase in the hormone that makes us feel hungry and a decrease in the hormone that makes us feel full.” Dr Harrington said.

“The end result is that there is a real increase in our feelings of hunger and clinical studies have shown that these circumstances can lead to people eating more than 300 calories extra per day and they’re particularly hungry for carbohydrate-dense food. Unchecked, this type of eating fairly quickly leads to weight gain.”

The lecture is based on her book The Sleep Diet, which demonstrates the impact of sleep on what you eat. Dr Harrington said that the link between sleep and weight gain was first observed in a 1970s study of nurses on the contraceptive pill. In that study of over 70,000 nurses she said it was noted that the fewer hours they slept the higher their body mass index (BMI) and this trend continued over the 15-year period of the study.

“As a population, we sleep on average about two hours less than our grandparents and while our sleep time has been gradually decreasing our waistlines have been increasing,” she said.

Referring to sleep, exercise and nutrition as “the three pillars of health” Dr Harrington said research is showing that more emphasis needs to be placed on sleep to help prevent weight gain.

“In Australia, 65 percent of the population is overweight or obese, and even with all the information we now have on eating well and exercising people are continuing to put on weight, so there is a missing link in weight loss and it is emerging that this is sleep.”

Dr Harrington’s lecture titled ‘The Sleep Diet’ will be held on Thursday 21 August in Building 12, Level B, Room 50 from 6.15-7pm.  Read more: http://www.canberra.edu.au/events/view/2043

University of Canberra

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