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FOOD & NUTRITION BLOG
We live in a society of disordered sleepers. In fact, students are among the worst abusers of their bodies when it comes to sleep. We stay up late to cram for exams or just stay up late for no good reason. We have conditioned ourselves to be nocturnal when all our body really wants to do is get to bed at a decent hour!
It’s really no surprise to me that evidence shows that staying up late has correlations with weight gain. Think back to a time when you stayed up late to study, hang out, or whatever. Suddenly, you are hit with the inclination to snack. What did you end up eating? I bet you my college diploma you didn’t choose something healthy.
So what are the implications of sleep deprivation on your body weight?
Recent evidence shows that even partial sleep deprivation, defined as <6 hours per night, can lead to energy imbalances and weight gain (Shlisky et al., 2012). Shlisky and colleagues found an inverse relationship between obesity and sleep duration- in a nutshell, this means the less hours you sleep, the higher the chance you will be obese or overweight.
Here’s the physiology behind this: Reduced sleep may disrupt appetitive hormone regulation, namely increasing levels of ghrelin (your hunger hormone) and decreasing leptin (the hormone that tells you you’re full) making you have an increased appetite. In addition, the longer you stay awake increases the time in which you have to snack. Increased fatigue from staying up also contributes to an increase in sedentary behavior and a decrease in your resting metabolic rate leading to an overall decrease in energy expenditure. Finally, altered substrate utilization from altered glucose metabolism and an increase in fat storage, in combination with an increase in energy intake and a decrease in energy expenditure, ultimately leads to increased fat mass gain and/or decreased fat mass loss.
The research article also highlights that trying to lose weight by reducing how much you eat and increasing energy expenditure while you are sleep deprived actually may lead to fat-free soft tissue loss instead of fat mass loss (2). Basically, trying to lose weight when you’re sleep deprived probably isn't the best method to achieve your weight goals.
Not only does sleep deprivation wreak havoc on your metabolism and energy expenditure, but it also affects your memory as well.
Although you may perceive that you are more efficient if you stay up late to finish some assignment or to study more, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice. Sleep deprivation can cause a plethora of negative effects including(1):
-Less effective study methods
-Irritability and moodiness
The list goes on… It’s all quite logical, really. Your brain needs the rest to remember information and to repair damage. It needs the solid 7-8 hours per night to do it’s proper duty. If you’re depriving your brain of the time it needs to do what it needs to do, you’re making it worse for yourself. Combined with a groggy mind, a headache, forgetfulness and a limited attention span, it’s no wonder that you can’t concentrate and you end up doing poorly on exams.
Getting enough sleep is critical to not only doing well in school, but also in the development of lifelong healthy habits. Pulling one or two all-nighters probably isn’t going to hurt you, but multiple in a row can be taxing.
My Pro tip: Prioritize your time, don’t procrastinate, and sleep well!
Next week, I’ll post on healthy study snacks to get you guys fueled and ready for finals!
2. JAND Article: access the article through the SJSU library!