Researchers claim that they found a relationship between sleep deprivation and high body mass index (BMI).
The team based its findings on the data provided by a national survey of 3,300 adolescents and young adults. The study revealed that 2.1 additional points on the BMI scale were the equivalent of one less hour of sleep at night. But participants had to go late to bed for five years to see a significant change in their BMI.
Additionally, trimming screen time, adding some extra hours of sleep during the daytime, or physical activity did not offset the changes in the BMI. A paper on the findings was published this week in the medical journal Sleep.
UC Berkeley’s Lauren Asarnow, senior researcher involved in the study, explained that the findings underscore the importance of bedtimes, not just overall sleep time when we talk about weight control.
BMI is a hyped method of learning whether you have a normal weight, you are overweight or obese. You can learn what your BMI is by dividing your weight in pounds by the square of your height in feet and inches. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 means that you have a normal weight, a BMI between 25 and 29.9 means that you are overweight, and a BMI higher than 30 means that you are obese.
Researchers sifted through data of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health which monitored teens and young adults living in the U.S.A. for more than two decades. Teens were surveyed thrice in their lives – when they reached puberty, during their college years, and as young adults. Berkeley scientists looked for a link between their bedtimes and weight gain.
As researchers calculated the teens’ BMI during the three stages of their lives, they noticed a pattern. Most adolescents do now follow official guidelines on how many hours they should sleep at night. The majority of teens failed to get their recommended nine hours of sleep per night. They also fared worse academically and emotionally.
Scientists explained that as puberty kicks in, the circadian rhythm is pushed to a later sleep cycle. The circadian rhythm plays a key role in physiological well-being and metabolic function.
But teens who went to bed earlier have a lower risk of becoming overweight or obese in adulthood than their peers who were night owls. Asarnow and colleagues also work on a project to reset adolescents’ biological clocks to help them better sleep at night.
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