This article highlights the importance of getting good quality sleep regularly. Lack of sleep leads, over time, to weight gain; diabetes; and other health problems.
There should be no doubt that the skyrocketing rates of overweight and obesity that have become so prevalent over the past half century are damaging the health and lives of millions around the western world. Excess weight typically raises blood pressure leading to cardiovascular disease and death, and causes metabolic dysfunction resulting in insulin resistance and diabetes. Processed and refined foods developed in a factory are packed with fast-release carbohydrates, sugars and hydrogenated fats and are the root cause of many chronic diseases and early mortality.
The length and quality of sleep is also emerging as a critical factor underlying the tendency toward obesity and insulin metabolism. Researchers from the University of Chicago have published the result of a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine that explains how not getting enough shut-eye has a harmful impact on fat cells, reducing their ability to respond to insulin by 30 percent, a hormone that regulates energy.
Fewer than seven hours of sleep each night significantly increases insulin resistance
In past research works, scientists have found that sleep deprivation has long been associated with impaired brain function, causing decreased alertness and reduced cognitive ability. In this study, researchers describe a molecular mechanism directly connecting sleep loss to the disruption of energy regulation in humans, a process that can lead over time to weight gain, diabetes and other health problems.
Lead researcher, Dr. Matthew Brady noted “Many people think of fat as a problem, but it serves a vital function… in storage mode, fat cells remove fatty acids and lipids from the circulation where they can damage other tissues. When fat cells cannot respond effectively to insulin, these lipids leach out into the circulation, leading to serious complications.” The team recruited seven young volunteers, six men and one woman. Each slept soundly for eight and one-half hours on four consecutive nights, and then 30 days later, sleep was limited to four and one-half hours. Foods was carefully monitored and controlled.
After testing for cellular insulin resistance, the researchers found that after four nights of short sleep, total-body insulin response decreased by an average of 16 percent, and insulin sensitivity decreased by 30 percent. The authors concluded “Sleeping four to five hours a night, at least on work days, is now a common behavior… we found that seven out of seven subjects had a significant change in insulin sensitivity. They are not tolerating the metabolic consequences.” Short sleep schedules, especially as experienced by many during a busy work week, is detrimental to health and is a mitigating factor in metabolic syndrome leading to diabetes.