Nutrition! Skipping meals or eating substandard meals pushes people into burnout-like symptoms fast (no pun intended). For an organization, that means making sure lunch is built into peoples’ daily schedule in such a way that it won’t get skipped under pressure. An all-nighter or a day of physical activity requires an extra meal to make up for the energy expenditure, which most people don’t realize, amplifying the detrimental effects.
Nutrition problems tend to disguise themselves as other kinds of stress; being hungry makes people emotionally brittle, which creates a thousand red herrings when you’re trying to figure out what’s wrong.
It has never occurred to me that pulling an all-nighter should imply eating more, though it seems like such a natural conclusion in retrospect (though I strongly avoid taking all-nighters).
What’s the actual reasoning? How does the body determine how much food it can intake and where does the energy expenditure come from precisely? Movement? Cognitive work?
I based this mainly on a combination of a model and personal experience/self-experimentation, but hadn’t previously looked for data to quantify it. I’ve significantly downgraded my confidence in the correct quantity of extra food to eat being meal-sized, but am uncertain since none of the studies measure quite the thing I care about.
This study measured energy expenditure as a result of an all-nighter, in subjects whose food intake was controlled (ie not allowed to eat extra), and found that
Missing one night of sleep had a metabolic cost of ∼562 ± 8.6 kJ (∼134 ± 2.1 kcals) over 24 h, which equates to a ∼7% higher 24 h EE
This (134kcal) is smaller than I was expecting; on the other hand, not being able to eat extra calories puts a pretty sharp limit on ability to spend extra calories. From a different angle, this paper measured sleep and wake energy expenditure and found a ratio of 1.67:1 (in nonobese controls), which would imply that converting sleep hours to wake hours would increase TDEE by ~15%. A study which measured next-day intake rather than metabolic expenditure found a 22% increase; but it’s possible subjects overcompensated by eating more extra than they consumed.