In a long-term study of middle-aged women, those who slept 5 hours or less each night were 32 percent more likely to gain a significant amount of weight (adding 33 pounds or more) and 15 percent more likely to become obese during 16 years of follow-up than women who slept 7 hours each night.

This level of weight gain — 15 kg, or 33 pounds — is “very clinically significant in terms of risk of diabetes and heart disease,” Dr. Sanjay Patel of Case Western Reserve University told Reuters Health.
Women who slept 6 hours nightly were 12 percent more likely to experience major weight gain and 6 percent more likely to become obese compared with those who slept 7 hours each night.

The 68,183 women in the study provided information in 1986 on their typical night’s sleep and reported their weight every 2 years for 16 years. The findings were presented at the American Thoracic Society’s International Conference.

After accounting for the influence of age and weight at the beginning of the study, women who slept 5 hours or less each night gained about 2.3 pounds more during follow-up than those who slept 7 hours nightly. Women who got 6 hours of shut-eye each night gained 1.5 pounds more than those who slept 7 hours nightly.
– American Thoracic Society’s International Conference

Dr. Keith and Laurie Nemec’s comments on Lack of Sleep and Weight Gain:

In this study, it showed that middle age women who had a lack of sleep, sleeping five hours or less each night, were 32% more like to gain a significant amount of weight, 33 pounds or more. And 15% more likely to become obese during the 16 years of follow up then women who slept 7 hours or more each night. The interesting thing in this study, the more sleep they got, the less weight they gained. And as we have shown in past newsletters, lack of sleep will make you overweight, it will make you have a weakened immune system, increasing the risk of cancer, it will increase your risk of heart disease, it will make you eat more. It has devastating effects on your health.

So, how much is enough sleep?

Research has shown that ideal sleep for human being is 9.5 hours with a minimum of 3.5 before midnight being crucial. Anything but that will cause a progressive weakening of the immune system and throwing the body, mind, emotion complex out of balance. So in this study if they would have compared it to the 9.5 hour norm you would have found those people or women had the perfect or no weight gain, but unfortunately, just a very slight percentage of the American population would get that much sleep, but that’s the amount of sleep that the average American used to get in 1910, now the average is less than 7 hours. So, this again, fits into our model, our Total Health approach which is the Seven Basic Steps to Total Health

Sleep being a critical and crucial effect not only to metabolism but also immune system function in preventing disease. Your plan for getting more sleep, when so many say, there’s no way I can get more sleep, I’m too busy, I have too much to do before I go to bed at night. Well the first plan is just progressively either work your way back a half hour each night until you’re getting at least a minimum of eight hours, or the best way is to wake up earlier. As many people say they cannot sleep if they go to bed early, they just lay there. Then the answer is found in the best time to get up. The earlier you wake, usually the more tired you become, so you would want to go to sleep earlier. So early to bed, early to rise. Remember God designed us to go to bed when the sun goes down, and wake up when the sun comes up.