Thursday, May 07, 2015

How Does Sleep Deprivation Affect Weight And Health?

When one has insufficient sleep during the night, he or she might feel sleepiness the next morning that might cause accidents either on the road or at work. Lack of sleep might also impair judgment and make one forgetful.

During the EPI/Lifestyle 2015 Scientific Sessions organized by the American Heart Association (AHA) held between March 3 and 6 in San Diego, researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar reported that people who lose as little as 30 minutes of sleep on a weekday have changes in their metabolism that might make them gain weight and put them at risk of getting diabetes.

522 patients who had just been diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes were studied. They were taking part in a different study meant to determine whether exercise and diet would help and as part of the study, the volunteers also filled out a sleep diary.

Patients who had 30 minutes less than the recommended 8 hours a night were more likely to be obese and also had insulin resistance that could lead to diabetes. After a year, for every 30 minutes under 8 hours, the rate of obesity went up by 17 percent and the rate of insulin resistance, a key problem of diabetes, went up 39 percent.

In another study that was published online February 19, 2015 in the journal ‘Diabetologia’, researchers from the University of Chicago revealed the reasons why getting too little sleep might raise the risk of diabetes. According to them, lack of sleep could lead to increased levels of substances known as fatty acids in the blood. As long as fatty acid levels remained high, the ability of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels was impaired.

The study was small and involved only 19 healthy men who aged between 18 and 30. They participated in 2 sleep scenarios. In one, they got a full night's sleep (about 8 hours a night) for 4 nights. In the other, they only got slightly more than 4 hours of sleep a night. After a few consecutive nights of getting too little sleep, the men's blood levels of fatty acids increased and stayed high for about 5 hours in the early morning hours. These levels usually peak and then drop overnight.

Overweight is undesirable as it is one of the key risk factors for heart disease and stroke, and so is diabetes. Fortunately, as the researchers suggested, high rates of obesity and diabetes could be reduced by something as simple as getting more sleep.

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