A little while ago I identified late bedtimes as a contributing factor in my weight challenge. This weekend I did some research and sure enough sleep and weight are (inversely) correlated.
Many sources share some basic points about the relationship between sleep and weight:
1. People who sleep less are, in general, heavier than those who sleep more.
2. Night owls tend to eat more.
3. Late night eating is rarely healthy eating.
4. Sleep may have a physiological effect that reduces appetite.
5. T.V. and computer screens emit light that tricks your body into staying up unnaturally late.
6. Tired people exercise less.
7. Across 20+ sources, none cited health advantages of a lack of sleep, and many specifically mentioned that there are none.
There are many studies drawing various conclusions about health and sleep, but one that tells the story well is from Northwestern University in 2011 that captures the extra eating that happens late at night. NU tracked the eating of early and late to bed types and concluded that the latter consume 248 more calories daily, ate twice as much fast food and consumed half as many vegetables. The calories alone pencil out to a two pound gain every month.
My experience is similar. For some reason, when I stay up late, I eat more and lose any discipline I had the rest of the day. Even if I can sleep in the next day, staying up late sends me into a tailspin. I need to get to bed early.
I grew up watching Johnny Carson. I was about the only person in my high school who did. In college it was David Letterman. Now it's surfing online and a DVR that I can never seem to catch up with. A lot of my identity has been wrapped up in staying up late. But you have to make changes to meet health goals. You have to become a little bit different person. I can do it. It's worth it.