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'Social Jetlag' May Be Making You Fat 197

Posted by timothy
from the it-certainly-is-making-me-dopey dept.
sciencehabit writes "A new study suggests that, by disrupting your body's normal rhythms, your alarm clock could be making you overweight. The study concerns a phenomenon called 'social jetlag.' That's the extent to which our natural sleep patterns are out of synch with our school or work schedules. When we wake up earlier than we're supposed to — or spend all weekend sleeping in and then get up at 6 am on Monday — it makes our body feel like it's spending the weekend in one time zone and the week in another. For people who are already on the heavy side, greater social jet lag corresponds to greater body weight."
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'Social Jetlag' May Be Making You Fat

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  • Yeah sure (Score:4, Informative)

    by doston (2372830) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @01:20PM (#39957605)
    Has nothing to do with the italian grinder you went to bed on, just the rhythmic imbalance. Fix that, change nothing else and the fat will literally melt away. Articles like this pander to the ever expanding population of morbidly obese...probably consciously. Editor's meeting: "Write more stories fat people will like, since everybody's fat".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:02PM (#39958109)

    Getting more exercise early in the day can often help with getting to bed.

  • Re:This is crap. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:15PM (#39958255)

    Look up sleep apnea. And stop spreading jaded ignorance.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:16PM (#39958269)

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16964783

    "We often worry about lying awake in the middle of the night - but it could be good for you. A growing body of evidence from both science and history suggests that the eight-hour sleep may be unnatural."

    We may, in fact, ALL BE DOING IT WRONG. If an 8 hour sleep cycle is indeed unnatural, then we're fighting our biological clock much more than we thought. Even if you get plenty of sleep.

  • Re:Yeah sure (Score:5, Informative)

    by eulernet (1132389) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:28PM (#39958387)

    Another suggestion: eat slowly !

    We eat tons of food without even realizing.
    The satiety comes after a few moments eating, and it differs from people to another one.

    Eating in the shortest amount of time doesn't allow the satiety mechanisms do their job.

  • Re:Yeah sure (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dripdry (1062282) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:33PM (#39958459) Journal

    Actually, that's not entirely true.

    A lot of the science now is showing that eat less/exercise more doesn't produce much in terms of results over the long term.
    There have been studies done on eating less/deprivation, and the repeatedly conclude that it's bad. In extreme cases, of course (like eating a pound of bacon at each meal) there is room to cut back, but in general the whole idea of introducing fewer calories may not be the cure-all many think it is.

    Obesity is actually a sign that we're not giving our body the nutrients it needs, so it stores fat. So eating better (read: more nutritious food) is likely to fix things more easily. Of course, exercise isn't bad or anything, it's just not a cure-all.

  • Re:This is crap. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Miamicanes (730264) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @04:33PM (#39959641)

    > Your weight is a result of calories in vs. calories out.

    Actually, it's not. There are plenty of studies demonstrating that chronic sleep-deprivation makes you MUCH more likely to gain weight from a given number of calories. Your body goes into 'crisis' mode, and becomes more aggressive and efficient about converting calories into fat. The fact that you're likely to end up ravenously hungry and fatigued multiples the effect, but even if you kept exercise and calorie count constant, you'd be more likely to gain weight after extended chronic sleep deprivation.

    The same phenomenon has been observed with some psychiatric drugs. In particular, one class of drugs used for treating schizophrenia. I don't remember the exact details, but I remember reading that there were a couple of them that *observably* slowed down the patient's metabolism for reasons that aren't entirely understood (and researchers are certainly trying, because if they can figure out what makes them slow somebody's metabolism down, they might be able to come up with a blockbuster drug that speeds it up and enables effortless weight loss. Assuming, of course, the drug doesn't end up having drug-induced mania or psychosis as a side effect).

  • by Immerman (2627577) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @05:06PM (#39959997)

    There is a bit of a sliding scale involved - as you lose weight you have less body mass to maintain so your BMR will drop. Likewise when operating in a calorie shortage for prolonged periods your body will adapt, getting more efficient and reducing the number of calories necessary to accomplish the same tasks, as well as being more aggressive about storing excess calories. Net result is that at a given calorie+exertion level you will at first lose weight, then plateau, and maybe even start to rebound. The solution, obviously, is you need to periodically update your plan slightly, either cutting more calories or burning them, until you stabilize within an acceptable range.

    The basic fact though is that 3000 Calories ~= 1lb of fat, that's chemistry. If you eat 100 calories less than you burn every day you MUST lose about a pound a month, that energy has to come from somewhere. The trick is to cut calories without cutting food and nutrients, which can be tricky if you need to do more than cut out the obvious junk food. Staying away from processed foods and eating lots of high-fiber alternatives can make that a lot easier - make your body have to work as much as possible for each calorie, and fiber has added the advantage that ~30% of the calories are in a form our bodies can't digest. Raw foods in general help too - we've evolved to let fire do some or digesting for us, breaking down complex starches into simpler things we can digest more easily - cooking can boost the human-accessible calories by 20-30%. If you're really desperate I suppose you could even start eating a lot of grass and sawdust - our bodies can't really process cellulose at all.

    There's also the problem of maintaining enough energy to keep exerting yourself when operating in a calorie deficit. Cutting back on fat can help, since your body normally burns a 50/50 blend of fat and carbs, and if you runs low on carbs you hit "The Wall" that endurance athletes speak of and your body doesn't like operating there and it takes serious willpower to keep going. The fact that it also rapidly switches to burning 90+% carbs for the first half-hour or so when you're strenuously exerting yourself doesn't help with the exercising either, at least not if trying to burn fat.

    And there are also certain long-term penalties for having been overweight - your body has special fat cells for storing fat, sort of like mini fuel tanks. When they fill up you grow more cells to handle the excess. However, when losing weight the cells don't die off, at least not quickly, they just all run nearer empty, and are more prone to filling up again. Remember these things evolved to help us survive through winter, famines, etc, if they're empty your body gets "worried" - obviously you needed them at some point in the past or they wouldn't have grown, if they're nearly empty then the next crisis to hit could kill you.

    Finally there's the personal variations in metabolism - some people just don't store much fat even when consistently overeating, while others seem to store every spare calorie. The latter was no doubt a great survival trait once upon a time, but makes maintaining a health weight a real challenge in a world of plenty.

I am here by the will of the people and I won't leave until I get my raincoat back. - a slogan of the anarchists in Richard Kadrey's "Metrophage"

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