Wanna lose weight? Get back into bed. As it turns out, your poor sleeping habits are making you fat…
Getting a later bedtime as a kid was a suburban graduation of sorts — an important stepping stone on the path to adulthood, not to mention bragging rights in the neighbourhood. Back in the day, you couldn’t just stream Charles in Charge later; you had to be there. These days, sleep feels like a guilty pleasure saved for weekends. Although our bodies in our 20, 30s, 40s, and 50s need less recharging than they did at age 10; the difference is only about two hours. It doesn’t explain why seeing 3am roll around on a random weekday night is starting to feel normal, even for homebodies. Blame Netflix or smartphone-accessible email, but 30% of adults aren’t even managing to pull off 6 hours of shut-eye a night. In a 2014 study, AsapSCIENCE found that subjects who slept just six hours a night for two weeks functioned on the same level cognitively as someone with a .1% blood alcohol level. That means one-third of the continent is legally drunk just from sleep deprivation. If nostalgia for an 8:30pm bedtime makes you suddenly understand man-babies, you’re not alone.
“In a 2014 study, AsapSCIENCE found that subjects who slept just six hours a night for two weeks functioned on the same level cognitively as someone with a .1% blood alcohol level”
The number of hours of sleep a person needs every night has long been debated by everyone from academics and health experts to life coaches and marketing companies. We use “8 hours” as a place holder for the fraction of time we should allot to slumber, but much like drinking 8 glasses of water a day, the standard seems more like a suggested amount — an ideal. With limited studies not backed by a consumer brand trying to market something to help us sleep or wake us up, it’s hard to know whether the truth is out there or if it’s not worth losing sleep over. Fortunately, the National Sleep Foundation just recently used a team of 18 scientists and researchers and 300 sleep-related studies to determine the number of hours of sleep people need at different ages and stages in their lives, once and for all.
Hours of Sleep Needed by Age According to National Sleep Foundation in 2015
Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously 12-18)
Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously 14-15)
Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously 12-14)
Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously 11-13)
School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously 10-11)
Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously 8.5-9.5)
Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
Adults (26-64): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (same as before)
Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)
Although the study isn’t exactly groundbreaking, it derives its shock value from the fact that we clearly haven’t changed all that much from pre-electricity days in terms of what our bodies’ natural sleep cycle is… but we have changed in terms of the number of hours we allow of bodies to rest. If candlelight meant hitting the hay (sometimes literally) just after sunset — the original mood lighting — and sleeping until sunrise, the invention of of the lightbulb followed by its partners in sleep-deterring crimes — the digital alarm, laptop, and mobile phone — have compromised our internal clocks. If it only took one national diahrrea outbreak from Olestra-infused diet potato chips to convince us to accept that the needs of our body and mind weren’t that far from the Neanderathal tree when it came to our diet — hence the popularity of the Paleo Dietand Atkin’s — sleep had yet to return to its uninterrupted, epic roots.
Besides, with jetset lifestyles the new norm, Paris, aka the city of lights, was just hours away, and New York, the epicentre of everything, was affectionately dubbed “the city that never sleeps.” Our greatest urban centre wasn’t just better than nature; it was beyond it.
“Weight gain might be our best hope for making us come to our senses about our sleep-deprived mind. What? It’s not like vanity is a post-Industrial revolution invention. What? It’s not like vanity is a post-Industrial revolution invention”
While it’s counterintuitive to think sleeping less will make you gain more weight, since you burn the least amount of calories when you’re resting, your metabolism actually slows down when you don’t get enough shut-eye to conserve energy. Think about it: if you were depriving yourself of rest in the wild, it would likely be a survival tactic. probably wouldn’t have been because you had to make an Excel sheet or play Candy Crush; you’d be in life-threatening trouble. Your body is just doing what it is programmed to do, your metabolic rate slowing down to a slow burn. This triggers the release of cortisol, which makes your brain think its hungry. Throw in hormones like ghrelin, which signals to your brain that you’re hungry, and plummeting levels of leptin, a hormone that makes you feel full, and it’s no wonder you break your “no more Taco Time ever” rule more than once a week. In fact, sleep-deprived people eat about 300 more calories more than those who’ve had a proper rest and don’t burn any more of them from being awake longer either.
But is sleeping more even possible with jobs now considering checkin email around the clock a necessity? In the US, The Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York is currently working on a man-made system that will regulate the amount of light people are exposed to and when — retuning their bodies to nature via technological advancements. Turns out when we don’t put science and nature in the ring together, they actually get along quite fine.
Do you think your sleeping habits are making you gain weight and unhealthy? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.