Consistency in sleep patterns linked to healthier weight

Research on the link between sleep and diabetes has been pretty consistent: ‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌Lack of sleep can increase risk for condition, and may also increase the likelihood that your food choices are poor.

A new study on the topic also found that the consistency of your sleep patterns plays a role in maintaining a healthy amount of body fat and lowering your risk for conditions associated with being overweight or obese.

Striking the sleep balance

The research, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, found that a consistent bedtime – and especially a consistent wake time – are linked to lower body fat.

It also seems that striking the right balance between too little and too much sleep is important, said Bruce Bailey, study author and exercise science professor at Brigham Young University. Bailey found that getting fewer than 6.5 hours or more than 8.5 hours of sleep per night was associated with higher body fat. Furthermore, the quality of sleep was found to be crucial in how it related to a healthy body composition.

Don't throw off the internal clock

Bailey said the most surprising aspect of the findings was that participants who had more than 90 minutes of variation in sleep and wake time during the week had higher body fat than those with fewer than 60 minutes of variation. And those who woke at the same time every time had lower body fat than those whose wake times varied.

The "sweet spot" in terms of hours of sleep was between 8 and 8.5 hours – participants who slept that amount most nights had the lowest percentage of body fat.

"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," Bailey said.

Relating consistent sleep to having good "sleep hygiene," Bailey explained that quality sleep helps to regulate hormones related to food consumption – which, in turn, affects body fat.

"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," Bailey said.

Better sleep can be achieved by exercise, keeping the room temperature cool and blocking out excess noise, Bailey concluded.

Source: Brigham Young University

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