We already know that kids who don't get enough sleep are at a higher risk of putting on extra weight -- but a new study suggests that the time you go to bed and wake up could also make a difference.
A study of 2,200 Australian children and teens ages 9 to 16 shows that kids who go to bed late and wake up late have a 1.5 times higher risk of being obese than kids who go to bed early and wake up early.
However, researchers did note that the kids who slept late got the same amount of sleep in total as the kids who slept early, meaning that "the timing of the sleep is even more important," said study researcher Carol Maher, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow with the University of South Australia.
"Our findings show that this sleeping pattern is associated with unfavorable activity patterns and health outcomes, and that the adolescents who don't follow this sleep pattern do better," Maher said in a statement.
The early-to-bed, early-to-risers went to bed 70 to 90 minutes earlier and woke up 60 to 80 minutes earlier than their late-sleeping counterparts, as well as exercised 27 more minutes a day than the late risers, according to the SLEEP study. The late risers also played video games or watched TV for 48 more minutes a day than the early risers.
That's because mornings might be better for physical activity, while late nights are more conducive to activities like TV-watching, researchers said.
Bad sleep habits are also linked with a number of other health problems, studies show. For obese teens, not getting enough sleep is linked with an increased risk of diabetes. And another study shows that for elderly people, not getting enough deep sleep is linked with a higher risk of high blood pressure later on.
For help in figuring out your body's best bedtime, read HuffPost blogger Dr. Michael J. Breus's post here.