The Relationship between Sleeping in Class and Food Intake: A Case Study

[Pwedeng thesis topic! It’s not a real scientific paper (duh, I even used wikipedia :P) but we really did the methodology just for fun. Read on! Hahaha]

The relationship between sleeping in class, one of the major problems of students and teachers alike, and food intake is determined in this study.

Sleeping, the natural state of body rest, is common not only in humans but in many other vertebrates. It is controlled by natural circadian rhythm, homeostasis, and willed behavior in humans. For adults, the optimum amount of sleep needed varies from person to person, but when sleep is done during the ‘wrong’ time of day, it may be inadequate [1]. Certain types of food have different effects on sleeping pattern. Tryptophan, melatonin, alcohol, and barbituates are known to induce sleepiness while caffeine, energy drinks, amphetamines, and cocaine tend to inhibit it [1].

Food is defined as “any substance eaten to provide nutritional support for the body” [2].Control of food digestion is governed by the parasympathetic nervous system [3] which increases muscle tone and motility in the digestive tract [4].

This study aims to determine the effect of eating before class and the degree of sleepiness one gets afterwards. Because the activation of the parasympathetic system during digestion enhances the ‘resting stage’ of an animal, it is hypothesized that eating food will therefore 
make one more sleepy.

Three human test subjects, all having average rest and normal alertness level from the night before (all had a paper due the day of the experiment) were used for this study.On the day of the experiment, they were subjected to different conditions.

Test subject A ate lunch (chicken ala king with rice) and drank sweetened pine-orange juice. Test subject B drank sago and gulaman while Test subject C had no food or drink whatsoever. After A and B had their food and/or drink, all three were kept awake for 1.5 hours.

After 1.5 hours, A, B, and C attended a 1-hour lecture on animal physiology (part of their schedule) from 12 noon to 1 pm. The room had normal room temperature, no air-conditioning, natural light from the outside, 30+ or so other classmates with varying moods in the room, and one male lecturer with a Ph.D. that discussed thermal regulation in ectotherms and endotherms. The lecture, in PowerPoint presentation form, was projected on a white screen.

Another person D observed the behavior of A, B, and C and noted the times at which each of them fell asleep or closed their eyes too long.

[4] Randall D, Burggren W and K French. 2002. Animal Physiology: Mechanisms and Adaptations. 5th ed. New York: WH Freeman and Company.


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