Benjamin Franklin was very intuitive when he said “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man health, wealthy and wise.” Research from Northwestern University has found that those who stay up late and consequently sleep late the next morning consume more calories each day and are at a greater risk of gaining weight. Researchers from the University’s Feinberg School of Medicine tracked 52 people whose average age was 30. Twenty-three were defined as late sleepers – on average, they went to bed at 3:45 am and awoke by 10:45 am. The “normal sleepers” were asleep by 12:30 am and woke up by 8 am. The researchers tracked their meal times, the amount and type of food they ate and how many calories they consumed. Late sleepers consumed 248 more calories a day than normal sleepers and most of these were after 8 pm. This could potentially pack on as many as 25 pounds a year if the calories were over and above the body’s needs. The researchers did note that the later risers had higher body mass indexes.
Most often, the excess calories consumed were not of nutritious quality. The late sleepers ate twice as much fast food and half as many fruits and vegetables as those who go to bed earlier. They also drank more full-calorie sodas. The researchers aren’t sure if this is due to preference or because there are usually less healthful options available at night. The study, published in the journal Obesity, adds to the evidence that adequate sleep is critically important to health and that lack of sleep is a contributory factor in many people’s weight battles. "When sleep and eating are not aligned with the body's internal clock, it can lead to changes in appetite and metabolism," the senior author of the study, Dr. Phyllis Zee, said in a news release.
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