A new study has linked lack of sleep with weight gain and visceral fat - belly fat that develops around viral organs and is dangerous for health. Published in the journal Sleep Medicine, the research has highlighted how much sleep is necessary to avoid a beer belly. The goal, said the researchers in the study, is to get seven to eight hours of sleep. And if a person gets one less hour of sleep, it will result in about 12 grams of visceral fat mass.
The study added the benefit seems to plateau around eight hours.
"Sleep duration is negatively associated with visceral fat mass accumulation during adulthood with possibly no benefits beyond eight hours of sleep per day," the team of researchers wrote. They, however, noted that further studies are necessary to confirm their findings.
The research is based on data gathered from more than 5,000 adults, aged 18-59, who participated in a US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2011-2012 and 2013-2014.
The respondents slept for about seven hours each night.
Lack of sleep has been linked to many health issues, such as brain ageing and behavioural changes.
According to Healthline, visceral fat is a type of fat that's stored within a person's abdominal cavity and can build up in arteries. It can leak fatty acids into the bloodstream that harms vital internal organs.
The visceral fat is located near several vital organs, including liver, stomach and intestines.
It is not the same as subcutaneous fat, which is just below the skin's surface and appears as cellulite. It is not considered dangerous in the same way.
While subcutaneous fat is easier to see, visceral fat is actually inside the abdominal cavity and isn't easily seen.