Researchers at Brigham Young University (BYU) have discovered that a consistent sleep pattern is good for the waistline, among other healthful and aesthetic benefits.
By consistent, the researchers mean going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning. On top of that, they found that the number of hours one sleeps also correlate to slenderness, or at least to keeping off body fat. Those who sleep less than 6.5 hours a night throw open the gates to weight gain as do — surprisingly — those who sleep more than 8.5 hours a night. The BYU study determined that sleeping between 8 and 8.5 hours a night is ideal for keeping the weight off and the health up.
The study, however, focused only on women between the ages of 17 and 26 — 330 participants in all — and it lasted just one week.
“We have these internal clocks and throwing them off and not allowing them to get into a pattern does have an impact on our physiology,” study researcher Bruce Bailey, an exercise science professor at the university, said in a statement.
Variations in sleep and wake times can also prove detrimental to the waistline, the study determined. Specifically, variations of 90 minutes or more tend to invite body fat, while variations of 60 minutes of less are less adverse.
The women volunteers were monitored using actigraphy, coupled with body mass measurements. Results were published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.
Other studies have shown that consistency in sleep habits (good ones, that is) leads to higher scores in cognitive tests for children, as well as to better behavior in the same children.
Good sleep and the benefits that result start with your own resolution to follow healthful sleep hygiene regimens, including consistent sleeping and waking hours. However, not everyone can just will himself or herself into a good night’s sleep.
Often, physical problems associated with the nasal passage, throat and mouth, and even allergies make good sleep next to impossible. That’s why it’s important to seek professional help when you encounter sleep problems that result in daytime fatigue, concentration and performance issues. Don’t wait. Sometimes you can’t just will yourself to better results.