Late Bedtimes and Less Sleep Lead to Weight Gain.

couch potato catYou’ve probably heard the age-old adage, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” I’m not sure about the wealthy or wise part, but healthy – at least, according to a growing amount of research – has some truth.

Researchers from the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania published a study in the July issue of SLEEP; it’s the largest and most diverse healthy-sample study ever conducted in laboratory conditions. For the study, 225 healthy participants were recruited for up to 18 days in the laboratory. The participants were broken into two groups and either spent only 4 hours in bed for five consecutive nights or 10 hours in bed for five consecutive nights. Throughout the study, meals were served and food was readily available.

When researchers crunched the data, they discovered that the sleep-restrictive group ate a significantly larger amount of calories due to late-night calorie consumption. During their extra awake time, the participants ate… and ate. And ate some more. Moreover, the proportion of calories from fat was higher during late night snacking.

Though it’s totally possible and very healthy to snack on celery sticks or carrots, the data shows that we’re less likely to make those choices late at night. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say it’s not when you eat, but what you’re eating – and how much of it – that counts most.

In other words, it’s always important to be mindful of your food choices, but this is especially true at night. Don’t fall for a case of the mindless munchies!

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  1. Alexander says:

    I don’t see where late bedtimes come into it. I get as much sleep as I need going to bed at whatever time I feel like. Which is usually about 5am.

  2. David Walton says:

    Don’t believe everything you read…. I average four hours of sleep per night. I work out 5-6 days a week. I eat healthy for the most part but do sometimes on occasion cheat and have some chips or a soft drink. Contrary to this article, I am not overweight nor do I feel sleep deprived. Next time the University of Pennsylvania folks do a study, they should contact me. Their results would be drastically different!

  3. Great tip! Now, if only I could’ve read this when it was actually earlier, like not 1 A.M. ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. What happends when you work a lot and the only time you can get to the gym or work out is really late?