Stick to a regular sleep patter to reduce your risk of obesity, suggest a new study published in the journal Current Biology.

According to the researchers, “social jet lag” can cause increase in body mass index of people who have varying schedules like sleeping late on weekends and extending the time they go to bed to party or to catch-up with friends or family.

Researchers surveyed more than 6,000 people about sleeping habits. Disrupted sleep increased risk of weight gain and even resulted in people smoking more to consuming more alcoholic or caffeinated beverages.

"The behavior looks like if most people on a Friday evening fly from Paris to New York or Los Angeles to Tokyo and on Monday they fly back. Since this looks like almost a travel jet lag situation, we called it social jet lag," says Till Roenneberg, professor at the Institute of Medical Psychology, University of Munich, explaining why he coined the term “social jet lag”.

Most people in the study reported that they had different sleeping patterns during weekdays and weekends. It is these different schedules that leave the body confused and tired.

“With social jet lag, we're forced to eat at times when the body doesn't want to eat, or isn't prepared for digesting food properly. All these things coming together might influence the way you digest food and how you incorporate it into your body fat. The result is that you become overweight or obese," said Roenneberg.

A recent study conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital says that too little or disturbed sleep patterns may lead to increased risk of diabetes and obesity. There are plenty of studies that link diabetes type-2 and obesity to disturbed sleep patterns.

National Geographic Magazine had earlier reported that the demands of work, social activities and availability of 24-hour home entertainment and internet access have caused people to sleep less now than in pre-modern times.

Listening to our body clocks might save us from potential health damage and economic loss suggests Roenneberg. It would be a better idea to have personalized work schedules rather than asking early-risers and late-risers to fall in the same line, reported CNN.

"Living against our body clocks is detrimental for our health. On an epidemiological level, we pay an enormous price for not being within our natural clocks,” said Roenneberg.