Need another reason to get some shut eye? A recent article in the journal Obesity shed light on some of the perils of staying up too late – and the verdict is in: The boogeyman isn’t nearly as scary as late night eating habits!
A series of studies at Northwestern University found that individuals who stayed up into the wee hours of the morning consumed almost 250 more calories per day than their early-to-bed-peers. Researchers divided individuals into groups labeled “normal sleepers” and “late sleepers". Late sleepers were defined as those whose midpoint of sleep occurred after 5:30 am. Compared with “normal sleepers”, those who hit the hay well after midnight consumed more calories at dinner, ate more after 8 pm, and had greater fast food and soda consumption. Additionally, “late sleepers” ate fewer fruits and vegetables overall. Higher BMI (body mass index) was associated with all these poor habits although this study did not demonstrate specific causation by any one of the factors individually.
It is unclear whether this substantial caloric intake is due to ingrained eating habits or availability of junk food during late-night hours, but regardless, hitting the sack earlier could help stave off significant weight gain over the years. It might seem difficult to train your body to fall asleep on the early side if you are typically a night owl, but stick with a routine and aim for 7-9 hours per night for optimal health.