Night owls more likely to gain weight

Man asleep next to computer

Going to bed late during the week can lead to weight gain, according to a new US study. 

Both teenagers and young adult ‘night owls’ are more likely to put on weight than those who get an early night, claims the new study from the University of California, Berkeley. 

Sleep habits and weight gain

The study, which looked at sleep habits over a 15-year period, found a direct correlation between how people sleep and their body mass index (BMI). 

Looking at data from over 3,300 people across America, the study found going to bed an hour later over a 5-year period can lead to people gaining an extra 2.1 BMI points. 

It also discovered other factors like the amount of exercise, time spent at a computer or total number of hours slept do not affect the increase in weight. 

Weight management

The study looks at 3 periods in a person’s development - the start of puberty, the college-age years and young adulthood. 

Lauren Asarnow, lead author of the study at Berkeley's Golden Bear Sleep and Mood Research Clinic, says the results could help with weight management in teenagers. 

She says teenagers who get to bed earlier have a better chance of keeping a healthy weight into adulthood.

Many teens not getting enough sleep

Many teenagers in the US, and across the world, are not getting the recommended 9 hours sleep, according to surveys. 

Many have reported issues with feeling sleepy and not being able to stay awake during school. 

A recent report found many UK teenagers are using their phones into the night, with 17% of 12-13-year olds and 28% of 14-15-year olds staying up past midnight on school nights. 

The sleep-disrupting use of social media led to 58% of 12-13 year--olds and 54.1% of 14-15-year feeling tired at school. 

Our natural sleep cycle, called the circadian rhythm, usually shifts to later in the evening when puberty starts. 

The study is published in the October issue of the journal, Sleep. 


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