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Confirmed: Sleeping Late Gives You Excess Pounds

written by / October 26, 2021
Sleeping Late Gives You Excess Pounds

If you like going to bed after midnight, we’re afraid we have some bad news for you. A new massive international study shows that going to bed this late is linked to excess weight and belly fat in the population aged 35–70.

More precisely, the 2021 study published in JAMA Network Open reveals a 20% bigger risk of having a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30, and waist circumference of over 35”/40” for women/men.

Furthermore, approximately 14.5% of the 136,652 international participants from 26 different-income countries had delayed sleeping time (commonly known as night owls). Most of them had a greater general and abdominal obesity compared to the morning larks (people that go to bed between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.).

Additional risk factors for excess pounds were found to be the following:

  • Going to bed between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.
  • Being sleep-deprived
  • Taking naps during the day (this particularly applied to women).

Results showed that those who fell asleep after 2:00 a.m. had the highest risk of weight gain, up by 35%–38% compared to the participants with early bedtimes. The sleep-deprived individuals didn’t do any better. More precisely, people who slept less than six hours a night were also more likely to be overweight. 

Scientifically speaking, the weight gain effect of sleep deprivation has been proven multiple times. What’s surprising, though, is the fact that daytime naps did nothing to compensate for the lack of sleep! On the contrary, naps further aggravated obesity stats, especially among women.

Nevertheless, there is one potential “silver lining” that we can deduce from the research—Focusing on fixing your sleep-wake schedule can help you treat and prevent obesity. 

This may require the same approach as to treating a circadian rhythm disorder since going to bed late usually happens when there’s a circadian misalignment, interfering with your biological functions. 

So, improving one’s sleep environment, sleep hygiene, and medicating with adequate sleep aids—herbal extracts or melatonin supplements should probably accompany your weight loss efforts.

Marija Kovachevska is a content writer at, Biochemist and Activist. After obtaining her BSc in Biochemistry and Physiology she changed her microscope for content research tools and continued researching in the fields of Medicine, Biology, and Communication. Her insatiable curiosity flare drove her to become a “content scientist writer” as she likes to say. Reality fascinates her and facts and statistics are a must-have feature in her articles. Fluent in English and French, she is a volunteer and communication associate for several non-profit organizations. French culture and handcrafting are her passion, but in her free time, she indulges in long walks and traveling, or as she likes to say “experiencing the inexperienced.”

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