Thursday, April 12, 2012

If you want to prevent diabetes and obesity, get enough Zzzzzzzzzzz's

I often label myself an "old woman" (some may say "lame") because I like to be in bed by 10:30 pm and have to get at minimum 7-8 hours of theoretical sleep time (ideally I would have 9-10 hours). Some Sunday nights you may find me in bed by 9:30 pm if it's been a tiring weekend. In college and grad school I NEVER pulled an all-nighter and I always told my friends that sleep was my #1 priority and I would perform better on an exam being well rested rather than over-studied and lethargic. While I might not have had the same college experience, nor been as cool* as the kids that pulled all-nighters, at least it helped me keep a slim bod and reduced my diabetes risk... according to recent studies.

* The reason I wasn't cool just being that I didn't stay up late on school-nights, not because I'm really a nerd ;-)

Brigham and Woman's Hospital just reported the results from a study where they kept 21 participants in a controlled sleeping environment and monitored diet and exercise habits. Initially, they had them sleep for an ideal 10 hours, but then over the next three weeks had them only sleep a total of 5.6 hours, at random times during a 24-hour period to simulate a rotating shift-worker's sleep schedule. By doing this, the body's natural circadian cycle- the biological sleep clock- was completely disrupted.

The results of the study showed that prolonged sleep disruption and deprivation decreased participants' resting metabolic rates and increased blood glucose concentrations because insulin secretion was reduced by 32% after eating (insulin regulates blood sugar levels). This study shows that people that are pre-diabetic and happen to be shift workers or have inconsistent sleep patterns may be more inclined to become full-blown diabetics as opposed to people that get enough sleep consistently.

In addition to increasing your diabetes risk by decreased insulin production, lack of sleep can cause a disruption in the hunger hormones, causing ghrelin to increase (which makes you hungry), and leptin to decrease (which signals fullness). The change in hunger hormones can cause a sleep deprived person to overeat. Findings from a study on this topic were reported at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2012 Scientific Sessions. The researchers said that in their study, a lack of sleep caused participants to consume 500 more calories each day compared to the control group that slept for 1 hour and 20 minutes more, which is quite significant!

Another obvious point to mention is that if you are sleeping less, you have more time to eat.

MY RECOMMENDATION: After dinner, brush your teeth and use mouthwash. Go to bed early if you are only staying up for the heck of it, and especially, go to bed if you are night-time snacker. If you are staying up to watch TV, you are more inclined to want to eat some Ben & Jerry's and chips than if you are in bed dreaming. Sweet dreams!!!

1. Buxton OM, et al "Adverse metabolic consequences in humans of prolonged sleep restriction combined with circadian disruption" Sci Transl Med 2012; (4)129ra43.
2. 1117
5. Calvin AD. Abstract MP030. Presented at: the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2012 Scientific Sessions; March 13-16, 2012; San Diego.


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