Staying Up Late Could Be Making You Fat

You're busy. You're stressed. So at the end of the day, you just want to pour yourself a drink, sink into the couch and relax. Maybe you read a book. Maybe your turn on ESPN or fire up Netflix to catch up on a few shows. In any case, you don't want to give up the day just yet. But by siphoning off hours from the time you should be sleeping, you could be adding inches to your waistline.

The New York Times reports that a recent study published in the October issue of the scientific journal Sleep shows a link between later bedtimes and weight gain. Researchers studied more than 3,000 young men and women for 13 years. The study monitored their normal bedtimes, as well as information on fast food consumption, exercise and television time.

After controlling for age, sex, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, the researchers found that each hour later bedtime during the school or workweek was associated with an increase in body-mass index. Surprisingly, they found that neither TV time nor exercise contributed to the effect. Unsurprisingly, fast-food intake did.

Expert Advice

"Sleep is actually the best diet there is," says James B. Maas, Ph.D., author of Sleep for Success. "Research shows that if you sleep just one extra hour a night, you can lose a pound a week."

And while the scientists acknowledge that their study had limitations and more research is needed, this serves as a good reminder to treat your body right and give it the rest it deserves. You can catch up on your queue tomorrow and besides, don't you want to get up early and work out?