In the past when people were healthier, three square meals were eaten each day. Today, you may have noticed that even late into the night the neighborhood convenience shops still have a steady flow of stragglers peeping in the shop for the late night snack, whether a cup of instant noodles, or simply a can of soda with some chips or a chocolate bar. Not only do people sneak into the proverbial refrigerator much more tonight than they did years ago, but it has become something of a necessity since people have also begun to have altered sleeping habits.
Commerce in Action
With the advent of commerce throughout the world, and the words globalization and the global village becoming hip catch phrases for almost every commercial endeavor, there has been an accompanying restructuring in the time systems of most societies. Where once the setting of the sun meant the beginning of rest, today some people begin their livelihoods only under the cloak of dark. With businesses running on multiple time zones, a growing number of offices are now open twenty four hours each day, and often have rotation schemes to keep its walls filled with employees. Other industries, such as in call centers, going to bed just as the moon begins to flutter down from the sky has become a norm.
Ghrelin and Leptin
According to studies, up to 63 percent of all Americans today do not have the recommended eight hours of sleep. Another figure indicates that 65 percent of Americans are overweight. The correlation is easy to see. The scientific explanation behind the phenomenon is through the hormone ghrelin and leptin. Leptin usually tells the body when it is already satisfied, while ghrelin gives the body the hunger cues to eat.
During the daytime, the balance is usually tilted in favor of leptin, which means that a person is satisfied easily. But once night time comes, the balance tips over in favor of ghrelin, and the body becomes hungrier not only more often, but because of the reduced leptin, satisfaction becomes harder to reach. As any college student reviewing for an exam next day will tell you, eating throughout the entire length of time you are up at night is not impossible. And when you tally the number of chocolate bars or calorie rich and fatty chips you eat, the results can be amazing. In fact, scientists have predicted that such late night snacking can have the cumulative effect of increasing weight by 5 to 15 percent over the years.
This is a major factor, some dieticians and researchers are beginning to argue, why most diet schemes barely manage to deliver their promise of slimmer bodies. The average human's lifestyle has changed so much that weigh gain is actually inculcated into the culture. Many are now suggesting that a holistic approach be practiced in order to ensure not only weight loss, but more importantly, health. Instead of counting calories, dieticians are suggesting replacing calories with nutrients, adding a regular exercise regime of at least 30 minutes each day for five days a week, and ensuring the bare minimum of 7 hours of rest each night.