‘Night owl’ teens gain more weight than their ‘early bird’ counterparts, study says

A new Harvard Medical School study published in the JAMA Pediatrics shows a connection between when teens go to bed and the weight they gain. (Source: Hannah Nelson from Pexels)
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(Gray News) – As the saying goes: the early bird catches the worm.

But what does the night owl get? Apparently, the answer is chunkier.

A new Harvard Medical School study published in JAMA Pediatrics shows a connection between when teens go to bed and the weight they gain.

The research shows teens should follow a regular sleep schedule and get plenty of rest.

“This is particularly important to adolescents whose evening preferences and academic demands often result in irregular sleep schedules that may cause circadian misalignment,” said Elsie Taveras, the senior investigator of the new study.

That goes for the weekends, too. Staying up late on Fridays and Saturdays undoes the regular sleep during the week.

Doctors even have a name for it – “social jet lag.” It’s the difference in sleep schedules between school days and free days.

The bottom line: Messing with your body clock often leads to added pounds.

The same thing happens with teens who go to bed late in general.

“Our research found that ‘night owls,’ teenagers who prefer to go to bed late but have to get up early for school, had higher waist circumference and greater abdominal fat deposition (adiposity) than the ‘morning larks,’ those who prefer to go to bed early and get up early to begin their day,” Taveras said.

And one more thing: It’s a bigger problem for girls than boys.

“While the reasons for that difference are not fully understood, they may include biological and sociocultural influences,” said lead author Elizabeth Cespedes Feliciano.

“Families should encourage consistency in their children’s sleep schedules and their bed and wake times as well as improvements in their sleep hygiene by limiting electronic media and caffeine use in the evening.”

That’s a lot to keep track of, but don’t let it keep you up at night.

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