Consistent Sleep Patterns Tied to Healthier Weight

A new study published online recently in the American Journal of Health Promotion suggests that keeping to a consistent sleep routine may help people maintain a healthier weight. Bruce Bailey, a professor in exercise science at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, and colleagues found that women who woke at the same time and went to sleep at the same time every day had lower body fat. Prof. Bailey suggests going to bed late and sleeping in may do more harm than good: “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.” Researchers found that women whose sleep routines are more consistent have the least amount of body fat. While previous studies have looked at sleep patterns and weight, this is the first study to look at the link between consistency of bed and wake time and body fat. For their study, the researchers examined data on more than 300 young women aged 17 to 26 attending two major Western U.S. universities. At the start of the study period, the women were assessed for body composition and were then given activity trackers to record their movements during the day and their sleep patterns at night for 7 consecutive days and nights.

The results showed that:

  • A consistent bed time, but particularly a consistent wake time, were linked to lower body fat.
  • Sleeping less than 6.5 or more than 8.5 hours a night was tied to higher body fat.
  • Sleeping between 8 and 8.5 hours a night was tied to the lowest levels of body fat.
  • Quality of sleep also appears to make a difference to body composition.
  • Participants whose wake and sleep time varied by more than 90 minutes had more body fat than those whose variations were limited to 60 minutes.

The researchers said they found wake time was particularly tied to body fat. The participants who consistently woke at the same time every day had the least body fat. Prof. Bailey suggests consistent sleep patterns are probably closely tied to good sleep hygiene. Altering sleep hygiene likely changes patterns of physical activity, which in turn alters hormones involved with digestion, with a knock-on effect on body fat. Prof. Bailey’s recipe for improving sleep quality is to exercise, keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet, and only use your bed for sleeping in. He adds that: “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.” In 2010, researchers reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine that insufficient sleep can make dieters lose muscle instead of fat. They found participants on a low-calorie diet lost the same amount of weight whether they slept an average of 8.5 hours or 5.5 hours each night. However, while they lost the same amount of weight, the composition was different.

Medical News Today

Tip of the Day

Sipping on green tea gives you a boost of antioxidants. Sipping on tea, especially green tea, might actually be beneficial to your health. Tea contains disease-fighting antioxidants. Green teas have higher levels than black teas. Scientists are studying how these antioxidants might help prevent disease such as heart disease and cancer. We need more research before we can say exactly how tea impacts health and how much tea you need to drink for benefits. Until then, enjoy sipping tea as part of a healthy diet.


Daily Inspiration 

“The Lord is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him sincerely.”

~Psalm 145:18

“The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground.”

~ Anonymous


Make Sleep an Important Family Value

A new University of Illinois study suggests that sleep quality and duration should be an important family focus. The study states that more parental sleep is related to more child sleep, which is in turn related to a lower risk of childhood obesity. Sleep routines affect the whole family, and it’s certainly true that if kids aren’t sleeping well, then parents aren’t sleeping well. Aside from the fatigue and cloudiness that lack of sleep can cause, current research shows that parents and kids will also tend to gain weight, if they’re not sleeping well. Restorative sleep may also help to regulate and maintain metabolism.

Some experts suspect that regular, adequate sleep may be one of the protective factors that prevents excessive weight gain. Experts recommend starting a calming routine for the whole family. That includes “unplugging” from TV, video games and computers at a certain time interval before bedtime. Don’t eat or exercise too close to bedtime, and avoid caffeine past three or four p.m. A hot bath or shower may relax you or the kids before bedtime, and make sure bedrooms are cool and dark. Quiet reading before bedtime may also help parents and children to begin to feel drowsy, an important prelude to quality sleep.


Tip of the day

Wondering about the coconut oil craze? Be moderate and use 100% cold pressed. Coconut oil might not be as bad as once thought. In fact, research now shows that fresh, non-oxidized coconut oil has positive effects on blood lipids similar to olive oil. As a saturated fat, it does increase blood cholesterol, but not as much as other saturated fats like butter. It’s not necessarily a health food and not all coconut oil is created equal. The key word is “fresh.” Coconut oil found in packaged foods can be highly processed and hydrogenated, so it’s not a smart choice. If you love the taste, be moderate and look for fresh, 100% cold pressed coconut oil.