PhotoIf you’re a consumer who loves burning the midnight oil and staying up late, you’re obviously going to be hitting the hay at a later time than most. While you may not be sacrificing sleep to keep up this habit, researchers say that you should be careful; it turns out that going to sleep late might be affecting your health.

A new study shows that, among adults who average 6.5 hours of sleep per night, those who have a later sleep timing are more likely to consume higher amounts of fast food, eat fewer vegetables, and take part in physical activity less often.

Poorer quality diet

The study used a group of 96 participants between the ages of 18 and 50 who slept an average of 6.5 hours at night or more. Participants were asked to wear a wrist actigraphy device and SenseWear arm band so that their sleep and physical activity could be measured. They were also charged with keeping a food diary so that researchers could track their caloric intake and dietary patterns.

After controlling for a variety of factors, including age, sex, sleep duration, and sleep efficiency, the researchers found that those who chose to stay up later were much more likely to have a poorer quality diet.

In particular, they found that fast food consumption was much higher and vegetable intake was much lower. Physical activity also happened less frequently for these individuals.

Sleep timing and obesity

The researchers believe that their results could provide insight into how sleep timing relates to health outcomes, though further study will be needed to verify their results.

“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,” said Dr. Kelly Glazer, principal investigator of the study.

An abstract of the study has been published in an online supplement of the journal Sleep, but the researchers plan to present their findings in full on June 12 at SLEEP 2016, an annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC that takes place in Denver.

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