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New study links ‘Social Jetlag’ to obesity, smoking, insomnia and drinking

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Obesity is big news in the media today. Everyone wants to get involved (including the government - check out yesterday's big news regarding a sugary drinks ban here), they want to fix it, to discover what is causing it, and to do this without putting in the actual work required to make the necessary changes in ones life to better manage their weight. In a recently published study, it has been found that technology may also be a culprit to the growing obesity epidemic. “Social Jetlag” is a term used in psychological circles for a mix up between our body’s internal clock and our daily schedules. In easier terms it is simply our growing refusal to listen to our internal biological clock. Think of the body like a machine; it works at optimum when you give it the best fuel, run it every once and a while, and allow it to sleep when not in use. Setting a schedule is key and not overworking a machine keeps it from breaking down. The same applies to the human body; albeit this is a more complicated machine.

This machine (the human body) has a consciousness and can make decisions that impact its health. Its subconscious creates the optimal and appropriate time for rest (to keep it healthy) which is often referred to as the internal clock. When we stop listening to this internal clock we create more problems than just insomnia or lack of sleep. Some of the links have been made to increased smoking, contributing to obesity, increased consumption for both alcohol (depressant) and caffeine. In other words, ignoring our internal clock can be very bad for our health and way of living.

In response to this recent new evidence; Till Roenneberg at the University of Munich has recently started compiling a database on human sleep and awake patterns and behaviors which will be used to produce a world sleep map.

It stands to reason that lack of sleep is becoming a factor of obesity; on average a person burns about 45 calories during one hour of sleep. On an eight hour schedule that equates to 360 calories, if you cut that down to six which is the recommended minimum time for rest it equates to 270 calories. Four hours equals 180 and… well you see the connection.

The problem is, in the case of social jetlag, the person is sacrificing sleep to be online in most cases, this burns very few calories and keeps the brain from shutting down for the much needed rest it requires.

Obesity is on the rise that the government, in their own misguided way, is getting involved in the fight. Thursday the news was on fire discussing the ban proposal New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg regarding ‘supersized’ sodas and sugary drinks (click here for more details), which has caused quite the controversy. With government attention, comes government funding. There are sure to be more studies created in the near future looking for the correlation of obesity to technological advancements.

What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you get enough sleep every night? Do you think lack of sleep has an impact on the rising obesity in the United States? You opinion matters, feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts.

As always, thank you for reading, and have a great day~

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