Is Sleeping in on the Weekends Making You Fat?

Illustration for article titled Is Sleeping in on the Weekends Making You Fat?

Heads up, people—I know you've cut out pizza, cake, alcohol, bacon, pancakes, raw cookie dough, and whole sticks of butter rolled in Pop Rocks, and your only source of pleasure these days is a nice, long sleep-in on Saturday mornings, but STOP IT. Sleeping in is making you fat too.


At least that's what a German sleep study suggests. They studied the sleeping habits of 65,000 participants and discovered that those with drastic differences between their weekday and weekend sleep patterns were more than three times likely to be obese.

The researchers dubbed these patterns "social jet lag":

Social jet lag is "the discrepancy between what our body clock wants us to do and what our social clock wants us to do," says Till Roenneberg, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Munich's Institute of Medical Psychology, in Germany. "It almost looks as if people on a Friday evening fly from Paris to New York, and on Monday morning they fly back again."

Okay, but it's fuuuuuuun to fly to New York for the weekend! And yes, I think it goes without saying that we would all be a lot thinner if we had no social lives.

Researchers speculate that "social jet lag" forces us to eat at odd times, when our bodies aren't prepped for digestion, which could affect the way that we pack on fat. It could also cause "metabolism disruptions at the cellular level." The theories are similar to those that suggest sleep deprivation could contribute to obesity. So, just to sum up, lack of sleep makes you fat, and catching up on sleep also makes you fat. Moral of the story: you're fat.

Whether irregular sleep patterns actively make people gain weight, or the type of people with regimented sleeping habits also tend to be the type with regimented calorie-counting habits, one fact is perfectly clear: I'M TIRED. And I'd like to thank the Germans for this impassioned argument as to why I should go take a nap right now:

Paying more attention to our body clocks may be good for the economy as well as our health, Roennenberg suggests. Rather than bending early birds and night owls to the same work schedule, why not encourage personalized schedules based on each individual's circadian rhythms?

The result would be a better-rested, healthier, and doubtless more productive workforce, Roennenberg says.


See? I'm doing this for you people. I NAP FOR THE CHILDREN.

Photo credit: (C) photomak / Stockfresh.



I'm so sick of the tone of all of Lindy's articles. Yes, the societal pressure to lose weight is problematic. Yes, there is some conflicting information about weight, health, and weight loss.

But that also doesn't mean that any effort to be thinner is ridiculous and to be shamed (even if it's primarily for looks, not health). And it doesn't mean that there isn't a wealth of consistent information that for the vast, vast majority of people, a decrease in calorie intake and and increase in exercise will result in healthy weight loss.

There IS a middle ground here.

Here's my anecdote: I've lost about 15-20lbs over the past few months doing WW. The article immediately struck a nerve because I have NOT given up pizza, and cake, and alcohol, and bacon, and butter. No one told me I had to. I eat all of these regularly. What I have done is eat them in lesser amounts, less frequently, and eaten more fruits and vegetables. Balance. And THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. And I felt beautiful months ago, and I feel beautiful now, but I like that clothes fit me better. And I like the side effect of feeling stronger and healthier, though I admit it wasn't my motivation.

There's nothing wrong with the suggestion to cut back on high calorie unhealthy foods and eat more healthy foods, all in proper portions. If you're seriously overweight, the fact of the matter is that you probably are not doing that. Same goes if you're seriously underweight! And, yes, some people have health issues that affect their bodies' relationship with weight, but most do not. And, yes, you can be beautiful at any weight, high or low. But he basic science behind weight loss is not that complicated and is not some scam.

To get to the point - the reason that not getting enough sleep or getting too much sleep matters is probably because it impacts your ability to regularly eat good food in proper portions. It really is as simple as that. But if you don't accept that basic premise, that food choices matter, how can you talk about this study? And why would you take EVERY one of these studies as a personal attack? It's getting exhausting.