I always had a feeling that people who go to bed earlier and get up early were healthier. Okay. Okay. I know I go to bed before all the kids in my complex. I have a particular distaste for “spring ahead” because who cares that the sun is now up when I am heading to bed and it is once again dark for my morning workout.
I have always been an early riser. I loved the opening shift at work when I was a lifeguard in University. Starting work at 5:00 AM seemed civilized to me compared to the distaste I had for being made to work until 10:00 PM – ugh.
I did have a job once that I worked till midnight on weekdays and 2:00 AM on weekends, but I was very young and there was alcohol involved. (Guess my occupation and you could win a free 30-minute health coaching call in March!)
When I work with people who just can’t seem to get to bed at a regular time and before midnight, they seem to struggle more with their health, their weight, and their fitness. It shouldn’t matter if you get enough sleep when you go to bed – should it?
Apparently, it does.
Research published in the journal Obesity proves that the early bird really does make better health choices. Courtney Peterson, Ph.D., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham says,
“Early birds may have an extra advantage over night owls when it comes to fighting obesity as they are instinctively choosing to eat healthier foods earlier in the day. Previous studies have shown that eating earlier in the day may help with weight loss and lower the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. What this new study shows is that our biological clocks not only affect our metabolism but also what we choose to eat.”
In the study of 2000 randomly chosen adults, researchers found that night owls eat more. More sugar in the morning and more sugar, more fat and more saturated fat in the evening. Night owls also eat worse than the early birds on the weekends. On the weekend, night owls ate more irregularly, ate twice as often, slept less and exercised less.
I know that shift work makes weight loss harder. I know that sleep deprivation causes weight gain and increases levels of stress. Now we can add that going to bed later reduces our ability to make healthy choices.
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