The body clock, or circadian rhythm, controls many of our daily tasks. In fact, it dictates when you sleep, when you’re hungry and more. Plus, it identifies when your body burns the highest amount of calories, even when you’re just lying on the bed doing nothing, a recent study suggests.
Actually, the human body burns around 10% more calories in the late afternoon and the early evening, compared to the morning period, even while resting, according to Current Biology.
This study demonstrates the crucial role the circadian rhythm plays in the regulation of our metabolism. Additionally, it highlights the reason why people with irregular sleep schedules, either due to night shifts or other reasons, are prone to weight gain.
In an attempt to assess the metabolism changes, without regard to dietary patterns, sleep habits and activity levels, experts kept participants in a laboratory for one month. The lab had no windows or clocks and participants had no internet or phone access. They were required to follow some given schedules of sleep, wake up and eating times. As a result, each day, the volunteers went to bed four hours later than the preceding night. This is exactly what a person would go through when traveling all over the globe in a week.
Jeanne Duffy, from the division of sleep and circadian disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, reported that the internal biological clock of the volunteers could not adjust and retreated to its own time without relying on outside world indications. This study enabled researchers to analyze the metabolic rate at different times of the day.
Researchers discovered that the volunteers burned calories in the biological night, when their body temperature drops. Twelve hours later, the energy expenditure was at its peak level, during the biological afternoon and evening.
Even though this study was small, it managed to provide a significant insight about the way circadian rhythms affect metabolism. Future research will evaluate whether these changes in resting metabolic rates lead to weight gain among people who have irregular sleep patterns. Meanwhile, if you want to stay within a healthy weight range, you should abide by normal sleep schedules.