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Science

'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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  • by Githaron (2462596) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:18PM (#39957571)
    If your biological schedule doesn't match up with the rest of your area, it will be hard to find a job that matches your schedule. All I can do is watch my weight and eat/exercise accordingly.
  • by Shoten (260439) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:21PM (#39957621)

    From the article:

    Previous work with such data has already yielded some clues. "We have shown that if you live against your body clock, you're more likely to smoke, to drink alcohol, and drink far more coffee," says Roenneberg.

    From the slashdot post:
    "or spend all weekend sleeping in and then get up at 6 am on Monday"

    These look to me like behaviors of people who don't take care of themselves and/or who are lazy/inactive. I don't see how sleep is the cause. It makes more sense to me that it'd be the other way around...that inactivity tends to help cause obesity, and also correlates with sleeping in whenever you can, for example.

  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:36PM (#39957811) Homepage
    Actually, there is something you can do about it. Keep the same schedule on the weekends that you do during the week. And ensure you get enough sleep every night. The problem as described in the summary is that people will stay up late and sleep in on the weekends, but will go to be early and get up early on the weekdays. The problem isn't some "biological schedule" it's that your schedule changes between the weekends and the weekdays. Your body can't adjust fast enough.
  • These look to me like behaviors of people who don't take care of themselves and/or who are lazy/inactive.

    Yeah. Despite decades of research showing that poor sleep patterns can effect your health... it's all about the lazy people.
     

    It makes more sense to me that it'd be the other way around...that inactivity tends to help cause obesity, and also correlates with sleeping in whenever you can, for example.

    Does inactivity correlate with sleeping in? Get back to me with your cites and studies.

  • by Anrego (830717) * on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:50PM (#39957977)

    Yup.

    Made a comment about this below. I used to run through the week on 4 or 5 hours a night, then crash on the weekends. It's tough to do, but if you force yourself to get a decent amount of sleep through the week, and cut back on the sleeping in (I still do sleep in a few hours.. ) it makes a huge difference. It's hard to give up that extra "winding down" time at the end of the day.. but not feeling like a zombie all the time is worth it.

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

    by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:51PM (#39957983)

    You are correct.

    Look, there's only one way to lose the weight, and that's this:

    Eat less and exercise more.

    I know, it's impossible, right? Well, I started out being unable to bike to the end of the block and weighing a dangerous 250 pounds. I ate crap all the time -- working in a mall I'd often eat NYF poutine, a donair, and an Orange Julius for lunch. I didn't get much exercise. I'd also eat a chocolate bar every single day. The odds were against me and the situation was grim.

    I kept on the bike though. I biked to school, eventually got all the way (2km!) without a rest, biked all the way through school, and biked to work once I graduated (B.Eng.). I still bike to work.

    In addition to that, I did thousands of pushups on the Wii Fit, pulling a lot of weight from my gut and putting muscle onto my chest. I changed my diet, eating a lot more fruit and veggies and cutting out a lot of the chocolate and fast foods. I still eat treats, and lots of them, but nowhere near what I used to scarf down. I drink mostly water, with some sodas as an rare treat.

    Now I weigh 160 pounds, 10% BF, and teach spin classes. The only real problem is that my wife isn't happy with my fitness; she's pretty insecure about it.

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:51PM (#39957987) Homepage Journal

    If your biological schedule doesn't match up with the rest of your area, it will be hard to find a job that matches your schedule. All I can do is watch my weight and eat/exercise accordingly.

    Controlling when you sleep (making it consistent) and when you are exposed to bright light (again, consistency PLUS avoiding it 3 hours before bed time) will get you on track without a heroic effort, unless of course you work a non-traditional shift like 8pm-5am and can't avoid being awake from 5am to 1pm on some days (if you are in the rhythm to sleep those hours 7 days a week you can get along just fine). That kind of schedule swing is a serious bitch.

  • Just do it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by digitalaudiorock (1130835) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:51PM (#39957991)

    The news is way too full of all these studies etc that just seem to distract from the simple truth that you just plain must exercise...vigorously, and regularly...period. I'm so sick of everything I keep hearing...like all this new stuff about how horrific it is that I sit down at my job. Give me a break...and don't get me started about all these recommendations regarding walking. The main reason people have for not exercising it not having time, and walking...in addition to being neither a good cardie-vascular workout, or a good strength training workout...is the worst bang for your buck timewise. I have the aerobic fitness of someone 30 years younger than I...can do 100 pushups, and have about 10% body fat (at 58)...and I don't kill myself working out either...a total of about 5 hours a week...20 minutes of intense aerobics three times a week and extensive weight training twice a week.

    Way, way too much bullshit getting thrown around...just do it!

  • This is crap. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daryen (1138567) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:57PM (#39958053)

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

    Nothing else.

    Yes, disrupting your sleep patterns may affect the "calories out" department slightly, but that is not what is making you fat. It is food that is making you fat. If you have some kind of magical body that violates the law of conservation of energy, please let the scientific community know immediately, otherwise it's time to put down the sandwich.

  • by locopuyo (1433631) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @02:58PM (#39958065) Homepage
    Same here, if only the days were longer. We need to find some way to slow the rotation of the earth.
  • Mod parent up. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @03:02PM (#39958097) Homepage
    Conventional exercise recommendations are not based on what is best for you. They are based on what the physiologists think they have any hope of getting you to do, on the theory that anything is better than nothing.

    Get out there and run.
  • Re:Just do it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by osu-neko (2604) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @03:03PM (#39958117)

    The news is way too full of all these studies etc that just seem to distract from the simple truth that you just plain must exercise...vigorously, and regularly...period.

    Yes, you must exercise. All these other studies, however, are additional information, and not distractions, and leave you better informed, not worse, unless you're simply too simpleminded to comprehend the idea that there might be more than a couple factors involved. Saying your schedule plays a factor does not in any way contradict or detract from the fact that exercise is the biggest factor. Useful information, not distraction...

  • by periodic (902820) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @03:11PM (#39958191)
    I find this kind of attitude is very elitistic from persons that seem to have a 24h day and tend to be morning persons. I agree with the former poster, I love to stay awake for a longer period and then sleep for more then eight hours, I can usually do that in the summers since my work is in academia and there is usually no students to sync up with.

    What I mean is that there is an attitude that one are disciplined and productive if one goes to bed early and get up early. If you are a night person or have a longer than 24h natural cycle, this means going to bed when you feel the most alert and productive and having to torture yourself every morning to stay in sync with the society. And still you will feel like piss the entire morning until maybe about lunch, after which your body starts waking up.

    Just don't say that evening persons lack discipline, they are just on a different internal clock. And maybe they are the most disciplined since they constantly have to work against what their bodies are telling them.
  • by T-Bone-T (1048702) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @03:16PM (#39958263)

    It happened to me with kids. I haven't slept-in in years because my kids get up right after the sun comes up.

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

    by doston (2372830) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @03:28PM (#39958377)

    You are correct.

    Look, there's only one way to lose the weight, and that's this:

    Eat less and exercise more.

    I know, it's impossible, right? Well, I started out being unable to bike to the end of the block and weighing a dangerous 250 pounds. I ate crap all the time -- working in a mall I'd often eat NYF poutine, a donair, and an Orange Julius for lunch. I didn't get much exercise. I'd also eat a chocolate bar every single day. The odds were against me and the situation was grim.

    I kept on the bike though. I biked to school, eventually got all the way (2km!) without a rest, biked all the way through school, and biked to work once I graduated (B.Eng.). I still bike to work.

    In addition to that, I did thousands of pushups on the Wii Fit, pulling a lot of weight from my gut and putting muscle onto my chest. I changed my diet, eating a lot more fruit and veggies and cutting out a lot of the chocolate and fast foods. I still eat treats, and lots of them, but nowhere near what I used to scarf down. I drink mostly water, with some sodas as an rare treat.

    Now I weigh 160 pounds, 10% BF, and teach spin classes. The only real problem is that my wife isn't happy with my fitness; she's pretty insecure about it.

    I knew a guy like that when I worked at AT&T wireless. He was probably 300 lbs when we worked together, but he transferred from engineering to IT. I didn't see him for a couple of years. Ran into him again and I didn't even recognize him. He went from this just lump of cottage cheese to a literal marathon runner. Never seen anything like it in my life. It's super rare and I (of course) have a theory about it. I think he (and probably you) were likely natural athletes and for whatever reason (life happening, depression) got caught in a rut. You're probably just being yourself. Who knows though. You probbaly have a theory of your own on what motivated you. Fear? A diabetes diagnosis? Your wife is right to be insecure about your fitness, if she isn't fit. I'd join in, if I were her; it's like having a live-in life coach.

  • by Defenestrar (1773808) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @03:30PM (#39958401)
    It may not be possible, but exposure to bright light in the morning can help a lot - it's best if it's sunlight or at least a fair solar spectrum approximation. The older you are the brighter the light needs to be (due to decrease of eye transmission with age).
  • Re:Just do it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CraftyJack (1031736) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @04:19PM (#39958939)

    I would kill to be able to carve out an extra five hours a week for aerobic exercise. However, that would mean giving up either my job, giving up sleep, giving up (at least) one of my hobbies, or never watching another minute of TV for the rest of my life.

    Everybody is busy. It's a question of priorities. For you, exercise ranks below all of the things you mention there. For me, it ranks above TV, and it counts as a hobby. I have enough fat relatives to have a good idea of what will happen if I don't stay active, and it isn't pretty.

  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @05:34PM (#39959657)

    If your body needs 10 hours sleep, then that's what you should do.

  • by Terrasque (796014) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @05:47PM (#39959775) Homepage Journal

    Delayed sleep phase disorder [wikipedia.org]

    Yeah, it's exactly what it sounds like. My natural sleeping pattern makes me go to bed around 3-4am. And sleep for ~8-9 hours. And no, just waking early in the weekend does not help. This has been going on since before I started school, and nothing tried the last 20 years have changed that one bit.

    I'm tired of friends and complete strangers saying stuff like "Just change your rhythm" or "You're just lazy, I did it just fine!" - I have tried, it Does Not Help. It does not change a thing.

    In fact, the disorder is sometimes referred to as "social jet lag" - it might even be the exact disorder the article is hinting at.

    Your comment sounds like an asshole seeing a guy in wheelchair, and saying "He's just lazy. Look, I can walk just fine, and so can my friends!"

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