Late bedtimes could lead to weight gain among teens, says UC Berkeley

A new study by researchers from the University of California has revealed that retiring late to bed makes teens gain more weight, and the trend elevates risks associated with weight gain among other health issues.

The report was published in the journal Sleep, and it involved 3,300 teens who were studied over a period of time to see how going late to bed at nights impacts on their body mass index (BMI).

In a way, this particular study contradicts earlier studies which stated that sleeping more adds to chances of weight gain, but this study tends to suggest that sleeping less per night adds to weight gain.

According to the researchers in this current study, they found that 2.1 increase in a teen’s BMI is observed for each hour that a teen spends in going late to bed.

Strange enough, the researchers found that the impacts of exercise routines are not very significant on the link that exists between staying up late and chances of BMI increase, regardless of the time that staying up late could have been the result of watching television or working on the computer.

According to study researcher Lauren Asarvow of the University of California in Berkeley, the results of the study becomes important because bedtimes and total sleep time could be used during sessions of weight management to determine how an adolescent transitions into adulthood.

“Obesity is obviously growing among adolescents and adults, and there’s also an epidemic of lack of sleep and later bed time preference in teens,” Asarnow stated. “There’s been some literature looking at the relationship [between] late bedtimes and weight gain cross-sectionally, but no one’s ever looked at what happens long term.”

One of the leading theories as to why staying up late before going to bed impacts weight gain is the fact that people who sleep late or work late into the night tend to eat junk food while still up, causing them to put on weight. They also tend to skip breakfast, causing the metabolic rhythm of the body to go out of control.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine advises that teens sleep for at least nine hours per night; but this has never been the case among teens because addiction to cellphones, laptops, tablets, and TV keep them up late into the night; and the negative effect of this is that it disrupts their circadian rhythm or internal clock that regulates sleep pattern.