The common study routine for many college students includes staying up all night with a pile of junk food and a caffeinated drink by their side. New studies on the University of New Mexico (UNM) campus reveal answers students should review as well.
You don’t need a college degree to be aware of the growing U.S. epidemic of obesity affecting adults and children. Recent research at the UNM Sleep Disorder Center (SDC) proves there is a relationship between sleep deprivation and weight gain.
The center summarized the completed research by saying, “A brain deprived of sleep does not utilize glucose as well as a well-rested brain. Untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea predisposes to insulin resistance and visceral fat accumulation and obesity.”
The UNM SDC found two hormones related to eating: Leptin, which signals the brain when enough food has been eaten, and Ghrelin, which is made by the stomach and signifies hunger. When students are not getting a good night’s sleep, bodies increase in Leptin and release extra Gherlin. This often results in an eating habit of fast food restaurants because of convenience and price.
“There are limited choices for college students who have a limited budget,” UNM Registered Dietician Shelley Rael said. “Even I recognize that Taco Bell is the best place in town but feeling sluggish after eating the food is common. Eating fruit between classes is a far better choice, and it saves money.”
The University of Chicago has completed similar research to the UNM SDC. During their research, they discovered subjects who slept only four hours a night had an 18 percent decrease in the desire to stop eating and a 28 percent increase in signals the body sends to the brain to stop eating. All of the subjects were healthy individuals and yet still noticed a 24 percent increase in appetite.
In recent years, it is common for adults to go to sleep later resulting in a decrease of average hours of sleep, which could be a factor in the obesity epidemic not only on campus but nationwide, according to the SDC. Some students, such as those going to medical school, see high levels of stress and amount of work they have to complete.
“I think medical students are the part of the definition that college students don’t get sleep,” BAMD medical student Justin Hessinger said. “I usually don’t have the energy to go to the store and pick out fruit for the week.”
Hessinger is not bothered by the fact he doesn’t get enough sleep. The first solution that comes to his mind is stocking up on energy drinks and snacks, such as chips, cookies, ice cream and other sweets. Not only has recent research proven this results in weight gain, but that a possible solution is getting at least seven hours of sleep.
The UNM SDC gives a recommendation to start a sleep routine, which includes not going to sleep until you are tired, avoiding all late night meals, avoiding caffeine products and not taking naps.
Maintaining a healthy weight, according to Rael, all starts with maintaining a regular sleep schedule.