Benjamin Franklin once said early risers make men healthy, wealthy, and wise, which has proven true for many business leaders.
Now new research may prove that Franklin was right about its health benefits.
New research reported by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine reveals people who rise early–and therefore are exposed to more light earlier in the day–often had lower body mass indexes, or BMIs, and healthier body fat percentages.
Those who were exposed to light later in the day were more likely to be overweight or obese, however.
The research was recently presented at the 29th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in Seattle, Washington.
“These results emphasize the importance of getting the majority of your exposure to moderate or higher intensity light during the morning and provide further support that changes to environmental light exposure in humans may impact body weight regulation,” says Ivy N. Cheung, a doctoral candidate in Northwestern University’s Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program in Chicago, Illinois and co-author of the study.
Early risers are often associated with success–and now research shows it also makes them thin as well.
To test it out, researchers strapped wrist monitors to 23 adult participants, designed to record when they were exposed to light and for how long.
Participants wore these watches for 7 days, reporting back to the lab after the testing period. Researchers then looked through these data while comparing the results to their BMIs. BMIs are used to determine how prevalent obesity is in large populations.
As it turned out, those who woke up early–and therefore received light exposure earlier in the day–were more likely to have lower BMIs, as well as lower body fat percentages. Those who rose later, however, didn’t reap the same benefits; they were more likely to be overweight or obese.
To researchers, these findings illustrate that calories alone don’t influence a person’s weight.
“The goal of this analysis was to test the hypothesis that mean light timing (MLiT) is associated with objectively measured BMI and body fat,” write researchers in the journal SLEEP. “The timing of exposure to moderate levels of light may influence body mass index and body fat. These results provide further support that changes to environmental light exposure in humans may impact body weight regulation.”
While other factors also play a role in a person’s weight, such as eating habits and exercise, the role of light could also play an integral role, researchers stress. And, if you’re having trouble maintaining your weight, the best solution could be as simple as getting up earlier–if you aren’t already, that is.
Readers: When do you usually wake up?
Mean Light Timing May Influence Body Mass Index, Body Fat (Press Release) – ScienceDaily.com
STUDY: Mean Light Timing is Correlated With Body Mass Index and Body Fat in Adults (Abstract) – JournalSleep.org