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Why should I go to sleep early?

Sleep timing has an effect on diet and weight gain, according to a recent study. Researchers at Northwestern University found that late bedtimes lead to late mealtimes, and that sleeping later and eating later make poor diets and weight gain more likely. In the study, sleeping less, going to sleep later in the night and eating more heavily after 8 p.m. were all associated with higher body mass index (BMI). If you’re looking to trim up, shifting your bedtime back -- and staying away from the refrigerator after 8 p.m. -- can help.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Getting enough sleep used to be one of those things everyone knew was critical (especially young doctors and new parents), but no one could swear what "enough" was, or why. Not anymore. The just-right amount for most of us is 6½ to 8 hours a night. Not getting enough doesn't just leave your eyes bleary, your brain fuzzy and your reaction time dull, it also makes you fat. Going to bed earlier does the opposite. Here's why:
  • People who turn in earlier typically eat about 250 fewer calories per day than night owls. Start tonight and you could lose 24 pounds in a year just by putting on your PJs earlier.
  • A late sleep-wake cycle throws off your body's natural rhythm of sleeping at night and eating in daylight. Doing the reverse -- eating at night, sleeping more during the day -- messes with your meal patterns and metabolism.
  • Ramping up calorie-burning activities during the day is tough if you're always tired from late nights.
  • Sleep shortages affect blood sugar and insulin levels in ways that make weight gain more likely and shift your hunger hormones into "gimme more" mode.

The deepest sleep occurs during the hours of 10pm-2am. Typically, if you miss the 10 p.m. bedtime, it will take much longer to fall asleep. The quality of sleep will also be less refreshing and there will still be a sense of fatigue in the morning. Even adjusting your bedtime from 11 p.m. to 10 p.m. will make an enormous difference in the quality of your sleep and enhance your feeling of wakefulness the following day. The reason for this is that you are taking advantage of the natural wave of neurochemistry that is already well on its way before 10 p.m. and you get the added support of the metabolic changes that occur at the 10 p.m. mark.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.