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By Dr. Brian McDonough

By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Sleep is important for more than just your happiness and productivity.

New research shows that if you don’t get the sleep you need, your risk for obesity goes up.

According to a study which involved more than 80,000 healthy Americans older than age 50, people who slept less than five hours per night were 40 percent more likely to become obese than people who slept seven to eight hours.

The average American gains nearly one pound per year. People who logged less than five hours of shuteye each night gained an average of one to one and a half pounds more than those who slept seven to eight hours.

We are not certain why this is the case but lack of sleep may alter hormones that regulate appetite and, as a result, you might eat more calories.

Feeling tired might also make you less likely to exercise. Eating more calories than you burn makes you gain weight.

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