ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
38% of U.S. Adults Use Alternative Treatments
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of Head, Neck Cancer Treatments
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Beware of Dog Bites
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Varicose, Spider Veins May Be Inevitable for Some
Almost Half of Adults Will Develop Knee Osteoarthritis by 85
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
CANCER
HPV Vaccine Has Higher Allergic Reaction Rate
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
Get to Know the Pap Test
CAREGIVING
Hospital Volume Imperfect Gauge of Cancer Surgery Outcomes
Few Hospitals Embracing Electronic Health Record Systems
Simpler Sleep Apnea Treatment Seems Effective, Affordable
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Obesity Linked to Heart Failure Risk
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Holistic Dentistry-My View
DIABETES
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Coffee, Tea Might Stave Off Diabetes
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
DIET, NUTRITION
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Red Meat No No No But Oily Fish Yes Yes Yes
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
Most Mt. Everest Deaths Occur Near Summit During Descent
Gene Mutation May Cause Some Cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder
EYE CARE, VISION
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
FITNESS
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Fliers Can Keep Blood Clots at Bay
Exercise Cuts Lung Cancer Risk in Ex-Smokers by 45%
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Tune Up Your Health With Music
Stressed and Exhausted: An Introduction to Adrenal Fatigue
Hand-Washing Habits Still Need Improvement: Survey Says
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Ingredient in Dark Chocolate Could Guard Against Stroke
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
Working Intensely Early on May Help Autistic Kids
MEN'S HEALTH
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
MENTAL HEALTH
Using the Mind to Heal the Heart
Shop 'Til You Drop: You May Feel Better
Psychotherapy Can Boost Happiness More Than Money
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
SENIORS
Seniors Who Volunteer May Live Longer
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Green Tea May Help Treat Uterine Fibroids
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Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat

FRIDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- New moms who can't zip up their pre-pregnancy jeans might not be catching enough zzzs.

Getting a good night's sleep, in fact, may be just as important as diet and exercise for shedding baby weight.

One study of new mothers found that those who slept five or fewer hours a day six months after giving birth were three times as likely to hold onto those extra pounds as were women who got seven or more hours of sleep.

Short sleep duration "stood out as an independent risk factor" for weight retention, said Erica P. Gunderson, a research scientist and epidemiologist at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., who worked on the study.

For many women, postpartum weight retention is a serious issue because it can lead to long-term weight gain. Some studies show that up to 20 percent of women retain at least 11 pounds at six to 18 months after giving birth, Finnish researchers reported.

Lifestyle factors that lead to postpartum weight retention -- including a woman's diet, physical activity and sleep patterns -- have not been well studied, researchers report. But as every bleary-eyed new mother knows, slumber is frequently disrupted or cut short in the first year after a baby's birth.

"Sleep deprivation can cause changes in the levels of hormones involved in appetite regulation," explained Dr. Sirimon Reutrakul, a clinical associate in medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

"Keep in mind, though, that there are multiple factors involved in causing postpartum women to sleep less," she said. "These include just having a newborn, having other small children at home, possible postpartum depression, illness of the newborns, if any, work, etcetera," she said.

In Gunderson's study, the sleep and weight retention patterns of 940 Massachusetts women were analyzed. A year after giving birth, 124 of the women had retained 11 or more of the pounds they had put on during their pregnancy.

Short sleep duration was associated with a threefold higher risk of substantial weight retention, when compared with women who got seven hours of sleep. How long a woman breast-fed, however, was not a significant factor.

Dr. Truls Ostbye, a professor and vice chairman of research in the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Duke University Medical Center, is currently leading a study designed to promote weight loss in overweight women after childbirth. Preliminary data from that study show that "women who sleep less at six weeks lose less weight from six weeks to 12 months," Ostbye said.

But the relationship between sleep and weight loss isn't that simple. After adjusting for the fact that heavier women lose less weight and sleep less, "the effect of sleep on weight loss nearly goes away," he said.

"The relationship between obesity and sleep is there," he added, "but it is as likely that less sleep is a result of obesity as the other way around."

Advising women to get more sleep may not get to the root of their sleep-deprivation problem, Reutrakul said, "although stressing the importance of a good night's sleep is a good idea."

SOURCES: Erica P. Gunderson, Ph.D., research scientist and epidemiologist, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, Calif.; Sirimon Reutrakul, M.D., clinical associate, medicine, Section of Endocrinology, University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago; Truls Ostbye, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., professor and vice chairman, research, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.; Nutrition Journal; American Journal of Preventive Medicine; American Journal of Epidemiology