Getting irregular shut-eye can derail even the most valiant slim down attempt, according to a group of Penn State University College of Medicine researchers. In fact, participants who changed their regular bedtime by just one hour consumed an extra 200 calories the following day—that’s like adding a French Cruller from Dunkin’ Donuts to your daily diet. In just 18 days of irregular sleep, that’s an extra pound on your frame (or 20 pounds in a year)! The solution? Simple: stick to your sleep schedule.
To come to this finding, researchers examined rest, activity and eating habits of nearly 350 teens. On average, study participants clocked seven hours of sleep each night and ate generally healthy diets. The teens started eating more when researchers then had them log either six or eight hours of sleep instead of their typical seven.
"According to the data from our study, it's not how long you sleep that matters. It's about day-to-day variations in how long you sleep," lead study author Fan He said in a statement. The researchers go on to explain that shifts in sleep patterns likely result in hormonal imbalances that cause us to eat more, meaning the results would likely hold true in adults, too. The bottom line? Once you set your sleep schedule, stick to it—even on weekends. Doing so may just help you lose weight without changing anything else about your diet or daily routine. Gotta love that!