Clichés are annoyingly difficult to escape, not only because they’re (by definition) overused, but also because they achieve what so few of the wordiest among us can: they make their points quickly and cleverly. “A stitch in time saves nine.” “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” (Rhyming while managing to stay succinct? Now, that’s skillful.) Even so, because they’re thrown about so often and usually with little thought, messages like these just don’t hold much water for us anymore. But though we may dismiss them as trite, some clichés are, for lack of a more original phrase, right on the money. In fact, beyond common sense, they even have science to back them up.
“You snooze, you lose.”
If you understood this cliché to mean that sleeping leads to underachievement, that would make it 100 percent wrong. We need a certain amount of sleep every night for optimal physical and emotional health. (That amount, rather than the oft-cited eight hours, is largely individual.) But if you took the phrase literally, then yes, sleeping does lead to actual loss—at least, according to various research on weight loss.
Studies show that when you don’t get enough sleep, your brain has to find another way to keep you awake during the day. Enter ghrelin, the appetite-stimulating hormone that goes into production overdrive in an attempt to keep you hungry, and therefore awake. At the same time, levels of leptin, a hormone that signals satiation, decrease significantly. A 2010 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that participants who slept only 5.5 hours a night lost more than 50 percent less fat than those who slept 8.5 hours per night instead. Aside from the hormonal connection, being exhausted all the time doesn’t make anyone want to go to the gym or be all that active. The added stress then causes stronger cravings for comfort food (high-calorie, high-fat goods). Clearly, if you don’t snooze, it’s likely you won’t lose.