Go Back to Sleep


Look, this isn't anything you don't already know: every so often a scientist will pop up to remind us that sleep is very, very important. But today, with our clocks set one hour forward for Daylight Savings Time, it seems especially relevant.

So here's something to keep in mind, as you struggle to get out of bed this morning: most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a day. As you might suspect, very few of us get that. While there are some rare individuals who can get by on much less — researcher Ying-Hui Fu calls these freaks "short sleepers" — the rest of us will experience the consequences of sleep deprivation.

Just ask Dr. Nate Watson, co-director of the University of Washington Sleep Center.

When you sleep less, genetic factors that are associated with obesity seem to be turned on. For instance, there's a hormone called leptin, which is released from fat cells. That tells your body that you're full when you've eaten. That hormone level goes down when you're sleep-deprived. You think you're still hungry — you're craving high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods.

On the plus side, there's a reasonable biological explanation for your late-night donut run. On the minus side, it's not all that healthy to stuff yourself full of late-night donuts.

And, of course, sleep deprivation has a negative effect on your performance, whether that be athletic or scholastic. Not something to worry about on a Sunday — unless there's a pick-up game this morning — but worth considering nonetheless.

If you're reading this, there's a good chance you're awake already, but you don't have to be. To those who are still feeling tired, see if you can't sleep just a little bit longer. Do it for your diet plan. Do it for your mood. Do it for those of us who can't.

[Image via Shutterstock]