May 10, 2012
Science Daily/Cell Press
Social jetlag -- a syndrome related to the mismatch between the body's internal clock and the realities of our daily schedules -- does more than make us sleepy. It is also contributing to the growing tide of obesity, according to a large-scale epidemiological study reported online on May 10 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication.
"We have identified a syndrome in modern society that has not been recognized until recently," said Till Roenneberg of the University of Munich. "It concerns an increasing discrepancy between the daily timing of the physiological clock and the social clock. As a result of this social jetlag, people are chronically sleep-deprived. They are also more likely to smoke and drink more alcohol and caffeine. Now, we show that social jetlag also contributes to obesity; the plot that social jetlag is really bad for our health is thickening.
Their analysis shows that people with more severe social jetlag are also more likely to be overweight. In other words, it appears that living "against the clock" may be a factor contributing to the epidemic of obesity, the researchers say.
"Waking up with an alarm clock is a relatively new facet of our lives," Roenneberg says. "It simply means that we haven't slept enough and this is the reason why we are chronically tired. Good sleep and enough sleep is not a waste of time but a guarantee for better work performance and more fun with friends and family during off-work times." And slimmer waistlines, too.