London - If you want to lose weight, but are not a fan of the gym, the results of a new study could offer a welcome alternative.
People who wake up and go to bed at the same time every day are slimmer than those with irregular sleep patterns, the study found.
Researchers studied more than 300 women, aged 17 to 26, over several weeks and found that those with the best – or most consistent – sleeping habits had less body fat.
The volunteers were assessed for body composition, and were then were given an activity tracker to record their movements during the day, and their sleep patterns at night.
The study, published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, found that getting less than 6.5 hours of sleep a night – or more than 8.5 hours of sleep – is linked to higher levels of body fat.
Women with more than 90 minutes of variation in sleep and wake time during the week had higher body fat levels than those with less than 60 minutes of variation.
Exercise science professor Bruce Bailey said poor sleep quality can result in higher body fat by affecting the hormones related to appetite.
Bailey said: “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.”
He says there are ways to improve sleep quality, such as regular exercise, keeping your bedroom quiet and dark, and using beds only for sleeping.
“Sleep is often a casualty of trying to do more and be better and it is often sacrificed, especially by university students, who kind of wear it as a badge of honour,” Bailey said.
Previous research from Temple University, in Philadelphia, revealed that when people get a good night’s sleep, they have lower fasting levels of the hunger-regulating hormone leptin.
They found that when children slept more, they consumed 134 fewer calories a day and lost weight.
These findings were supported by research from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota which also revealed that sleep deprived people eat more calories.
The researchers studied 17 healthy young people and found that when they were sleep deprived, they ate more.
They believe this is because when the volunteers were tired, they had higher levels of the hormones leptin and ghrelin, both of which are associated with appetite. – Daily Mail