Sleep Deprivation Is As Harmful As A High-Fat Diet To Insulin Sensitivity

A new research presented by scientists from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles suggests that sleep deprivation can impair insulin sensitivity in a similar manner as high-fat diets do.

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The paper highlighting the importance of sleep was presented at the Obesity Society Annual Meeting in Los Angeles. The aim of the researchers was to determine whether lack of sleep affected insulin sensitivity in a similar manner as a high-fat diet did. Both factors have been linked with insulin resistance in the past, but no study previously showed which one does more damage.

When a person becomes less sensitive to the hormone, that is he becomes insulin resistant, his body is pressured to synthesise more insulin to keep the blood sugar level stable. This often leads to type 2 diabetes. Obese people are more at risk to be affected by insulin resistance, thereby leading to diabetes. Therefore, the researchers monitored the hormone sensitivity in 8 dogs before and following diet-induced obesity to achieve their goal.

After some of the dogs were deprived of sleep for one night (as opposed to others who had a normal sleep), their insulin sensitivity was tested using an IV glucose tolerance test. Thereafter, the dogs were put on a high-fat diet for 6 months to be tested again.

The results show that sleep deprivation for one night decreased insulin sensitivity by 33%, while 6 months of high-fat diet lowered it by 21 %.

Furthermore, after the said diet caused insulin resistance, one night of sleep deprivation did not affect it.

Therefore, the researchers concluded that lack for sleep for one night might be as harmful as 6 months consuming a high intake of fats in terms of insulin insensitivity. Also, the mechanisms by which the two induce insulin resistance might be similar. Adequate sleep thus appears to help in maintaining the normal blood sugar levels, thereby protecting from obesity and diabetes.

“It is critical for health practitioners to emphasize the importance of sleep to their patients. Many patients understand the importance of a balanced diet, but they might not have a clear idea of how critical sleep is to maintaining equilibrium in the body,” says Dr. Caroline Apovian from The Obesity Society.

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