Is it hard for you to lose weight or keep the weight off? Your sleep patterns, including what time you go to sleep and wake up, may be partly to blame, according to a new study from Brigham Young University.
BYU exercise science professor Bruce Bailey and his team studied over 300 U.S. college women aged 17 to 26. They measured the women’s body composition then tracked their activity and sleep habits for one week. The results of the study were published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.
The researchers reported that their most surprising discovery was a link between a woman’s consistency in going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, and her body weight. The women in the study who went to bed and woke up at about the same time each day had lower body fat than women with less consistent sleep schedules.
The study further showed that a bigger variation in sleep consistency had a greater impact on body fat.
Women with more than 90 minutes difference in sleep patterns from day to day had higher body fat readings than women with 60 minutes different in their sleep and wake times. Waking up at the same time appeared to be more significant than going to sleep at the same time.
The researchers also noted that getting the right amount of quality sleep is also important for weight management. Less than 6.5 hours of sleep per night, or more than 8.5 hours appears to contribute to higher body fat. The research team concluded that between 8 and 8.5 hours is the ideal amount of sleep for lower body fat.
Other research also supports the idea that adequate sleep is helpful in controlling weight. A study reported on WebMD correlated lack of sleep with lowered ability to control what you eat.
Susan Zafarlotfi, PhD, clinical director of the Institute for Sleep and Wake Disorders at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey said, “When you have sleep deprivation and are running on low energy, you automatically go for a bag of potato chips or other comfort foods.”