Elsewhere – Study appears to link lack of sleep, weight gain

The Daily Iowan (U. Iowa)

(U-WIRE) IOWA CITY, Iowa-Late night venti frappacinos from Starbucks and large pizza deliveries might no longer be to blame for the dreaded Freshman 15.

Weight gain has now been linked to sleep deprivation, according to a report from the recent North American Association for the Study of Obesity conference. When a person is sleep-deprived, the level of the hormone leptin, which is involved in the regulation of appetite, is lowered. In turn, low leptin levels increase appetite.

College students should get nine hours of sleep a night, James Clack, the retired Duke University psychological services director, said in a telephone interview.

However, college students are among the most sleep-deprived Americans, averaging only six hours of sleep a night.

Kathy Mellen, a dietitian for Student Health Service, believes that more than hormone levels can be attributed to college weight gain. Weight can be altered by sleep deprivation, but an unhealthy diet can also affect how much a college student gains, she said.

“Students turn to food to keep up their energy when they are up late studying,” she said.

Duke University has attempted to help by eliminating 8 a.m. classes this fall in order to aid students in obtaining the recommended nine hours of sleep. Clack said most classes now fall between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.