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 the course of 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, or more than 8.5 hours, sleep a night 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.
Professor 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 college students, who kind of wear it as a badge of honour,’ Professor Bailey said.
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