A new study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion ties healthy weights to healthy sleep patterns — in other words, observing the body’s internal clock and going to bed at a decent hour and arising at a decent hour each day help regulate one’s body weight.
Bruce Bailey, a professor of exercise science at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, goes so far as to say that eight hours of sleep aren’t always equal in that, if you go to bed late and arise later in the morning while getting in your eight hours, you’re still disrupting your body’s natural sleep cycle to your own detriment.
“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,” he explains.
Bailey and his BYU researchers studied 300 young women for seven days, monitoring their sleep patterns and physiological results in terms of weight and body fat. According to their findings, waking up at the same time everyday had the biggest impact on body composition, specifically body fat, even if nighttime hours of sleep varied.
Here is a summary of their other findings:
- Sleeping more than 8.5 hours or less than 6.5 hours a night led to increased body fat.
- The optimal sleep duration for best body fat maintenance was between 8 and 8. 5 hours (but a consistent waking time trumped sleep duration).
- Participants whose going-to-bed and arising times varied by more than 90 minutes were most susceptible to increased body fat.
In the United States, foregoing sleep, unfortunately, is something that people like to brag about — often without realizing the damage it’s doing to their health. As Prof. Bailey says: “Sleep is often a casualty of trying to do more and be better and it is often sacrificed, especially by college students, who kind of wear it as a badge of honor.”
If you have sleep or snoring problems, you’re at risk of losing out on the quality of your “waking” life. Sleep deprivation usually shows up as daytime fatigue, lack of focus and difficulty in meeting challenges. Consider getting help with your sleep and/or snoring problems. It’s in your own best interest to do so.