Why You Need More Sleep

Not getting enough sleep has been linked to higher weight. According to new research, your sleep habits could still affect your body composition, even if you get sufficient rest.

Researchers at Brigham Young University assessed the body composition of 330 young women, and then had them wear actigraphs for seven days to track their activity and sleep patterns. Short (less than 6.5 hours) or long (more than 8.5 hours) sleep were associated with higher body fat, as was poor sleep quality. Those findings are consistent with earlier research.

What was surprising was that sleep inconsistency, or variations in bed time and wake time, was also associated with higher body fat. Women with more than a 90-minute variation in bed and wake times during the week had higher body fat than women with less than 60 minutes of variation. Wake time was especially linked to body fat: getting up each morning at the same time was associated with less body fat.

Good sleep hygiene is associated with consistent sleep patterns, according to lead researcher Bruce Bailey. He suggests that regular exercise, using beds only for sleeping, and sleeping in a cool, dark, quiet room should improve sleep quality.

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