It’s impossible to put too much value on a good night’s sleep. Being well-rested has been linked to better overall health, a clearer mind, and a longer life. But there could be even more benefit to making sure you get enough shuteye than previously realized. According to a recent study, missing just 15 minutes of sleep can be enough to lead to significant weight gain.
The new research, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine, was compiled from data generated by 120,000 people’s use of sleep tracker apps connected to smartphones, watches, and fitness trackers for up to two years, CNN reports. The study found that people with body mass indexes (BMIs) above 30—which is considered obese by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—only slept about 15 minutes less on average than those whose BMIs were healthier.
“These findings provide further support to the notion that sleep patterns are associated with weight management and overall health,” the authors wrote.
Many previous studies have examined the link between sleep loss and weight gain. According to a USA Today report from 2014, earlier research has found that a lack of rest can cause a spike in the levels of a hunger hormone called ghrelin, as well as a decrease in the fullness hormone leptin. Being sleepier has also been shown to lead to an average increase of 300 calories consumed per day.
Want to make sure you’re getting your 40 winks? Doctors recommend getting at least seven hours per night, but since no two people share the same sleep patterns, that can be easier said than done. Therefore, experts suggest sticking to a set bedtime schedule, avoiding caffeine or stimulants in the afternoon, getting exposure to natural light, and adding at least 30 minutes of exercise to your daily routine. And for more on how to get the most out of your slumber, Never Put This In Your Body Before Bed If You Want to Sleep, Doctors Say.