Sleep and Your Waistline

Summary of Research: “Electric light allowed humans to override an ancient synchronization between the rhythm of the human clock and the environment, and over the last century, daily rhythms in meal, sleep and working times have gradually disappeared from our lives,” said Wyse. “The human clock struggles to remain tuned to our highly irregular lifestyles, and I believe that this causes metabolic and other health problems, and makes us more likely to become obese.”

My fiancé has told me about studies like this one relating to things such as energy level and mood. He wanted to experiment with sleeping on a different schedule where sleep patterns were more dependent on light and optimal times of day for work rather than basing it on the typical nine to five schedule. ( Which can be tough when you have…a nine to five work schedule) I thought it was interesting this article’s proposal that ‘developed-world’ sleep schedules actually have an impact on obesity. You can imagine as a dietitian-in-training this was of great interest to me.

Dr. Wyse states that an impact on the brain, which regulates metabolism, is a cause for increased likelihood of obesity and diabetes. The article goes on to state that the sudden rise in obesity is not only because of diet and exercise habits of developed world adults today but that it also is impacted by our sleep schedule. I agree there could be other reasons besides diet and activity levels for the weight gain in the developed world; but, I am not sure that circadian desynchrony has that large of an effect. His suggestions are very worth-while and will probably make for a much happier and productive society. Curving our dependence on fast and processed foods while integrating exercise into our daily schedule will certainly do wonders paired with better sleep habits.

My point: I do not think changing sleep habits alone would ‘cure’ or even put a dent in the obesity problem.

Suggestions made that are reasonable in the 21st century lifestyle: “Shiftwork, artificial light and the 24-hour lifestyle of the developed world mean that circadian desynchrony is now an inevitable part of 21st century life. Nevertheless, we can help to maintain healthy circadian rhythms by keeping regular meal times, uninterrupted night-time sleep in complete darkness, and by getting plenty of sunlight during daylight hours.”

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120829195119.htm

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