“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” If Benjamin Franklin were alive today, he’d say “I told you so.” A small study published online in the journal Obesity has found that those who don’t go to bed early might not be so healthy: Staying up late appears to increase a person’s risk for eating poorly and gaining weight.
Researchers from Northwestern University studied 52 adults who recorded their eating and sleeping patterns for seven days. According to a release:
Late sleepers consumed 248 more calories a day, twice as much fast food and half as many fruits and vegetables as those with earlier sleep times, according to the study. They also drank more full-calorie sodas. The late sleepers consumed the extra calories during dinner and later in the evening when everyone else was asleep. They also had a higher body mass index, a measure of body weight, than normal sleepers.
The study is one of the first in the U.S. to explore the relationship between the circadian timing of sleeping and waking, dietary behavior and body mass index. Senior author Phyllis Zee, MD, said that the study shows when you eat is just as important as what you eat. “When sleep and eating are not aligned with the body’s internal clock, it can lead to changes in appetite and metabolism, which could lead to weight gain,” she said.
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