It’s a typical movie scene: Character #1 wakes up early, pulls back his crisp-looking sheets, maybe does some sit-ups, then proceeds to get ready for the day: grooming, whistling and roaring up a juicer to make some sort of kale-based breakfast concoction. Smash cut to Character #2 who’s scrambling out of bed last minute, trips on a pizza box on her way to the bathroom, digs through a laundry basket for a clean shirt and later swerves into the drive-through line for a cheesy sausage-egg-muffin-product of sorts to tear into on her way to work.
Well, there seems to be some truth in this romcom trope: According to a recent study done by researchers at Northwestern University, the time you wake up is strongly associated with the dietary choices you make throughout the day. In fact, the results showed that sleeping late is linked to scarfing more fast food, as well as less vegetable consumption and less time on the ol’ treadmill — aka an increase in sedentary behavior — despite the fact that sleeping later was associated with a lower body mass index.
Researchers measured the sleep and food diaries of 96 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 50, each of whom slept at least 6.5 hours a night. Participants also had their body fat levels evaluated and wore SenseWear armbands, which monitored their physical activity. Overall, the adults who slept in were more likely to make unhealthy dietary and exercise decisions — particularly the late-sleeping men.
So what can we take from this? According to the study release, the principal investigator of the study, Kelly Glazer Baron, said, “Our results help us further understand how sleep timing in addition to duration may affect obesity risk. It is possible that poor dietary behaviors may predispose individuals with late sleep to increased risk of weight gain.” In other words: Don’t think that all those mornings sleeping late and then eating a greasy sack of fast food won’t affect your long-term health.
What can you do? Establish better habits: Go to bed earlier, wake up earlier and invest in a juicer. Or just steer clear of the Taco Bell drive through and have a salad every once in a while. This ain’t rocket science.
This story has been updated.