Women Who Maintain Consistent Sleep, Wake Times Have Less Body Fat
November 19, 2013

Women Who Maintain Consistent Sleep, Wake Times Have Less Body Fat

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Consistently going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day can have an impact on your body weight, researchers from Brigham Young University (BYU) claim in a new study.

BYU exercise science professor Bruce Bailey and his colleagues recruited over 300 women between the ages of 17 and 26 from two major universities in the western US. They studied those female subjects over the course of several weeks, and concluded that those women who had the best sleeping habits also maintained healthier body weights.

Among their findings, which have been published online in the American Journal of Health Promotion, is that a regular bed time and a regular wake up time were associated with lower body fat, and that getting less than 6.5 hours of sleep or more than 8.5 hours of sleep each night were related to higher levels of body fat. Quality of sleep was also found to play an important role in the equation.

In fact, according to a report by Lindsay Whitehurst of The Salt Lake Tribune, changing the time that you go to bed or wake up by just 90 minutes could be enough to impact body fat – meaning that sleeping in for just an hour and a half on the weekends could have an impact on your body composition. Wake-up times were found to have more of an impact than bedtimes.

“Women in the study were first assessed for body composition, and then were given an activity tracker to record their movements during the day and their sleep patterns at night. Researchers tracked sleep patterns of the participants (ages 17-26) for one week,” the university said in a statement. “Study participants who went to bed and woke up at, or around the same time each day had lower 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,” wrote Bailey, who related consistent sleep patterns to having good sleep hygiene. Changes in these patterns can influence biological activity, affecting some of the food consumption hormones in the body and contributing to an overall increase in excess body fat.

Furthermore, those who reported better sleep quality also had lower body fat. While sleep quality is difficult to measure, Bailey suggested a few steps that people could take in order to improve the effectiveness of their slumber. Those recommendations include exercising, maintaining cool room temperatures, making sure that the bedroom is dark and quiet, and using beds solely for the purpose of sleeping.

“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. He was assisted on the study by co-authors James LeCheminant and Larry Tucker, both exercise science professors, and statistics professor William Christensen, all of BYU.