Seriously, All of Us Really Need to Go the Fuck to Sleep

By Cassie Murdoch

Yes, we all know in theory that we need to get more rest, but we never seem to actually do anything about it. Sure, part of our constant tiredness is due to circumstances beyond our control—we are too busy living to sleep—but maybe we need to start changing those circumstances because study after study seems to show that not getting enough sleep is truly terrible for our bodies. And now new research has found that a lack of sleep makes us eat more crappy food and also makes us more likely to have a stroke. Okay, okay, I’m going to close my eyes right now. I swear.

In terms of making you indulge in the junkier end of the food spectrum, it seems not getting enough sleep changes the way our brain reacts to choices between healthy and unhealthy menu items. One study, by Dr. Marie-Pierre St-Onge at Columbia University, found that the brains of sleep deprived people showed more activity in the reward centers of their brain when faced with unhealthy food. The well rested people, it seems, got less of a thrill from eating like crap. Of course, the more reward you experience from something, the more likely you are to eat it, so that doesn’t bode well for those of us who skate by on four or five hours of dreaming per night.

To make matters worse, a separate study by Stephanie Greer at the University of California, Berkeley, found that a lack of sleep impaired activity in the part of your brain that controls behavior and helps you make choices. That meant that people weren’t as able to make good choices when it came to which foods they’d like to eat. Of course, eating unhealthy food has any number of bad consequences, but taken together these two studies might help to explain why previous research has found a link between a lack of sleep and obesity.

But regardless of how much one gorges on Twinkies and Doritos when they’re tired, not getting enough sleep has now been shown to significantly increase the risk of stroke. A new study found that those who regularly get less than six hours a night are four times more likely to have a stroke. The study looked at more than 5,000 adults and found that the increased risk held even for those people whose Body Mass Index was normal and those who weren’t at risk for sleep apnea. This is the first study to connect a lack of sleep to stroke risk, but it’s also the first to show that adults who aren’t overweight and are not otherwise at risk for stroke are put at risk by not getting enough sleep.

Eek, this is all very bad news for the 30 percent of working adults who fall into the under six hours a night category—especially when you consider that not getting enough sleep has already been tied to obesity and also a small increase in being at risk for a heart attack. Add to that that not being well rested makes you feel like a crabby zombie, and it’s hard not to wonder if it might not be worth rejigging our social and corporate structure so that we don’t need to be starving ourselves of vital shut-eye just to keep up. Perhaps it is time to begin calling for the creation of an American siesta? Or maybe we need to start an Occupy Bedrooms movement? However we do it, it’s pretty clear that we all need to go the fuck to sleep.

Lack of sleep may cause obesity by affecting brain’s ability to choose healthy food [Telegraph]
Lack of sleep increases stroke risk [USA Today]

Image via Lisa S./Shutterstock.

Originally published on Jezebel. Republished WITH PERMISSION MOTHERF*CKERS.

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25 Comments

  1. Thumb up 13

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    “Hey Girl, It’s Rachel Maddow. Why don’t you come over and #occupy my bedroom this weekend.”
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    Don’t mind if I do!

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    I seriously just read this article while stuffing my face with Nutella, hours after eating a burrito from a fast food chain and after 3 nights of not having slept more than 5 hours. I’ll be going to take a nap now.

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    my daughter is in med school, and you’d think at least THEY would support students getting their z’s, but alas, most med students, and young docs in general, are lucky to get 5 hrs.
    This is a pet peeve of mine…

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    Fast food chains should not be opened for 24 hours to lessen the craving for junk foods at night hence promoting more sleep amongst those like me who have a very tight relationship with late nights watching DVDs LOL

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    Heh. Both those studies showed up on the intranet at work this week. (My company makes CPAP machines and is therefore very interested in convincing people that sleep is important.)

    For what it’s worth, I believe both studies haven’t been peer reviewed yet.

    Oh, there was also another one today saying that lack of sleep could exacerbate depression, too, and I know many of us have that issue!

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    man, as soon as i read the words “BMI” and “obesity”, i shut down. being fat isn’t a disease. i feel like this article is portraying getting fat as just as scary as the increased risk of heart attack or stroke. what?

    i feel like it’s more important to acknowledge that the health risks associated with lack of sleep will disproportionately affect poor and working class people, women, people of colour, people with disabilities and other marginalized populations and for us to talk about the fact that it is the white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy that is making us sick.

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      all that to say that i support an occupy bedrooms movement if it’s tied to the general occupy analysis! the onus shouldn’t be on the individual to just “get more sleep” or whatever. this: “and it’s hard not to wonder if it might not be worth rejigging our social and corporate structure” is a big ol’ understatement, in my view.

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