October 16, 2012

Study confirms Sleep Deprivation influences Diabetes


Insulin resistance is a hallmark for Type 2 diabetes. Although there have been many studies supporting this observation, the question of why still remains. For the first time, researchers at the University of Chicago have been able to show that healthy people experience significant insulin resistance after sleep deprivation. The results were published in the current journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

The study involved seven healthy, lean men and women, aged 18-30. All seven participants were studied in two different sleep labs. One period consisted of 4 nights of 8.5 hours of sleep. The other lab was 4 nights of 4.5 hours of sleep. During the sleep labs, physical activity and food intake were strictly controlled, regardless of the sleep duration.

At the end of each sleep study, researchers gave participants a glucose tolerance test to measure insulin sensitivity. In addition to the glucose tolerance test, researchers biopsied abdominal fat cells to measure how they responded to insulin.

After 4 nights of sleep deprivation (4.5 hours) the subjects  expressed an average drop in insulin response of 16% and insulin sensitivity in fat cells decreased 30%. Researchers commented that the sleep deprived healthy subjects exhibited reductions in insulin sensitivity similar to that of a person with Type 2 diabetes.

“In our study, seven out of seven subjects had a significant change in insulin sensitivity after a brief period of sleep restriction,” said lead study author, Matthew Brady, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and member of the Committee on Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition at the University of Chicago Medicine. “This is significant because sleeping four to five hours a night during the work week is not uncommon. People think they can function cognitively on little sleep, but our study proves they are not tolerating the metabolic consequences.”

No longer is a good night’s rest pigeonholed to restorative effects on the brain. According to an editorial,   the study results point to a much wider influence of sleep on bodily functions, including metabolism, adipose tissue, cardiovascular function, and possibly more.

Sleep. It does a body good.

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