It seems that late hours may affect our lives early on, as teenage ‘night owls’ are likely to gain weight if their bedtimes are not watched and their hours of rest generally fluctuate. Going to sleep early on could provide better health benefits, no matter the actual time spent resting.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a study to investigate the association between late bedtime hours and BMI of teenagers. They examined data from 3,342 teenagers, between 1994 to 2009. It evaluated their development over the course of three stages of their lives: onset of puberty, college-years, and young adulthood.
The normal range of a health adult is reportedly between 18.5 to 24.9 BMI. The study has shown that for every extra hour that a teenager stays up late during their development years increases their BMI by 2.1 points over the course of the next 5 years. That essentially means that they can go from normal weight to overweight simply because of late bedtime hours.
According to lead author of the study Lauren Asarnow, who is a doctoral student at UC Berkley, even that relatively small increase can be impacting. The relationship between bedtime hours and BMI in adolescence was regarded without any other factors affecting it. For example, neither actual time spent sleeping or exercise caused their BMI increase.
As stated by Asarnow, staying up late means more chances of indulging in junk food and late night snacks. Furthermore, people who often go to sleep much later are prone to skipping breakfast, a practice that has been associated with weight gain. This affects their lives as they move further into adulthood.
It has led researchers to the conclusion that weight management can be controlled earlier on through bedtime hours. The National Sleep Foundation has found that teenagers have irregular sleeping patterns, varying from week days to weekends. It disrupts their circadian rhythm, which affects their metabolism.
It adds more to the problem that many adolescence do not get the 9 hours of sleep per night recommended for their age. Staying up late adds to the problem, and a slight shift in their schedule could see to benefits later on. By shifting bedtime hours, they can “create good sleep habits and maybe prevent weight gain over time”.
It instills a better routine and help later on. It could set their weight on a healthier course as they progress through life. And, possibly, help them through one of the many reported complaints about not being up to stay awake at school.
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