Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Sleep Fat Boy Sleep

The myth of 8 hours sleep has now been spun in to 'The Sleep Diet'

  • A “sleep diet” may be the best way to slim for someone with an inherited tendency to put on weight, research suggests.

    Sleeping more than nine hours a night appears to suppress genetic factors that lead to weight gain, a study has found.

    In contrast, getting too little sleep seems to have the opposite effect.

    Previous research has shown an association between poor sleep and obesity, but the new findings reveal a complex interaction between sleep and genetic factors linked to body weight.
Like most things in biology, things are a bit more nuanced.  The problem here seems to be a combination of sleep deprivation/debt (total sleep) and the hormonal impact of light signalling. 

We shouldn't underestimate the problem of sleep debt.  The BBC reported on an interesting study which found that sleep could improve athletic performance.  The point being it was total sleep that mattered, not necessarily sleeping in a single block,
  • The researchers asked the players to maintain their normal night-time schedule (sleeping for six to nine hours) for two-to-four weeks and then aim to sleep 10 hours each night for the next five-to-seven weeks.

    "Many athletes testified that a focus on sleep was beneficial to their training and performance.” said Cheri Mah Stanford University.

    During the study period, players stopped drinking coffee and alcohol. They were also asked to take daytime naps when travel prevented them from getting 10 hours of night-time sleep.

    The study found that the players ran faster timed sprints (16.2 seconds at the start of the study compared with 15.5 seconds at the end), their shooting accuracy improved by 9% and their fatigue levels decreased. The athletes also reported improved performance during competitive basketball games.
Personally I would find it stressful trying to sleep in a 'solid block' where I didn't stir during the night - because the latter is inevitable and fighting against it detrimental.  We've all been in bed, awake in the small hours watching the imminent approach of dawn, unable to doze off. 

This is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on whether you have your ducks in a row or whether the wakefulness is a product of discomfort/dietary stimulants/poor health - the issue of correlation vs causation runs right through this subject.

You can read more about the impact of the 'endless summer' of modern life here.

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