That’s the title of this piece on Yahoo! news about teens who sleep less eating more fats. (Eating more fat = the “hefty price”. Geddit? Amazing how reporters think nobody’s ever made a fat joke before them.)
In the study, adolescents who slept fewer than eight hours on a weeknight consumed more of their daily calories from fat and fewer calories from carbohydrates than teens who slept eight hours or more. […]
However, the researchers note that their study only shows an association and cannot say for certain whether sleep loss did in fact cause the teens to eat more fatty foods.
The correlation between sleep dep and weight gain has been noted before. (So’s the correlation between weight gain and stress. And sleep deprivation is also linked to stress.) Whether it’s the 2.2% increase in fat intake doing it or not is unclear.
But what had me rolling my eyes was the speculation on why this might be. Sleep deprivation’s effects on hormones? Being up longer might provide more time to eat? The time of day that one is eating might have an effect? Seeking a boost in “reward-seeking behavior”? I wonder if the researchers ever were sleep-deprived as teens. I certainly was; I remember the fatigue, falling asleep in class, feeling like I’d never be rested. I also remember that food would give me energy. Energy to finish my homework, energy to get through gym class, energy to walk home from school, energy for my after-school cleaning-woman job. Caffeine was my friend too, but it worked much better with food.
When I was on a diet, of course, I was even more tired—and thus craved food even more. I’d skip breakfast, have a salad for lunch, and wonder why I was so exhausted at dinnertime. By college I’d routinely stop for a snack on the way home from work. Two-packs of Hostess cupcakes; a Twix bar; a single-serving bag of Bugles; I loved them all, even as I was ashamed of what I then considered binges. (Now that I’ve learned more about eating disorders, I realize that while I might have been “cheating” on my diet, those weren’t binges.)
It’s frustrating, though, that the article doesn’t mention other effects of sleep deprivation: cognitive impairment, increased risk of occupational or automobile accidents, high blood pressure, impaired immune systems — all of which are much more serious to me than being fat. Or that many teens naturally have a later “sleep phase” than younger kids or adults, which makes it harder for them to get to sleep earlier. Maybe those weren’t in the press release.