Following This Nightly Bedtime Ritual Might Help You Lose Weight, Says New Study

Updated: Mar. 31, 2024

A new study suggests you cannot out-exercise poor sleep habits, especially as you age.

You’ve probably heard your whole life how important a good night’s sleep is, and the science backs that up. Catching seven to nine hours of shut-eye every night sets your body up for a slew of positive benefits. In fact, research suggests that sleeping just an extra hour each day could reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, boost your immunity, and stave off depression. But along with how much time you spend in bed, other sleep habits like your bedtime and when you wake up can have significant effects on your health and even your weight.

A study published in January 2024 issue of the Journal of Activity, Sedentary, and Sleep Behaviors looked at how bedtime and wake-up time variability, along with total sleep time, affect health markers and body weight. It also assessed whether exercise and an active lifestyle could help improve the negative health metrics associated with poor sleep.

The study included 3,698 people, all of whom were 46 years old and wore activity monitors that tracked their wake and sleep habits for two weeks. They were then assessed for average blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), level of abdominal fat, glucose and insulin levels, and cholesterol to see how sleep affected these metrics. What researchers discovered was that, overall, irregular sleep habits resulted in several poor health metrics, especially for people who didn’t move much throughout the day.

However, they did have some good news for troubled sleepers: If someone missed a few hours of sleep here and there, boosting exercise could help mitigate some of the health effects. When they factored in activity levels, those who moved more saw an improvement in blood sugar and blood pressure numbers suggesting that exercise could help mitigate some of the damage done by poor sleep.

However, if one of your priorities is weight loss or weight maintenance, it seems like you cannot out-exercise poor sleep habits, especially as you age. People who varied their bedtime significantly had higher waist circumferences and BMIs even with additional exercise or daily movement factored in. “Higher bedtime variability was associated with higher waist circumference regardless of time in bed, chronotype, and sedentary time or total physical activity,” wrote researchers. 

If you want to maintain a healthy weight as you age, be sure to prioritize sleep. There are many techniques you can try to improve sleep. Some people find that limiting screen time before bed, cultivating a calming pre-sleep routine, cooling down their room, or trying relaxation or meditation practices can help. See a healthcare provider if you find yourself tossing and turning to ensure your poor sleep isn’t part of a larger health problem.

Originally Published in 1,519 All-Natural, All-Amazing Gardening Secrets