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Lack of Sleep Can Lead to Obesity

Apr 13th, 2012

lack of sleepBenjamin Franklin once said, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” His intention was to stress the importance of rising early. But in this fast-paced world where getting adequate sleep has become a challenge, it’s also important to point out the importance of going to sleep early.

According to a study published today by  Science Translational Medicine, having an irregular sleeping schedule or not getting enough sleep, increases the risk of obesity and diabetes.

An experiment was conducted with 21 men and women participants. They were kept in a controlled environment for three weeks where they were allowed to sleep only 5.6 hours. Researchers observed that they developed slower metabolisms and decreased insulin production.

This could not solely be blamed on sleep deprivation. An irregular timing of meals yield the same result. Orfeo Buxton, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and an associate neuroscientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston said “We disrupted not just the timing of sleep but the timing of meals, so it seems that eating meals at an unusual time may also play a role.”

During the study, blood tests were taken to check the participants’ level of insulin, cortisol, leptin and ghrelin. Abnormal levels of these hormones lead to obesity and diabetes.

They found that the abnormal sleeping schedule reduces the amount of insulin released by the body by 32%. Insulin is important for it regulates the glucose we get from food. If our body can’t produce the right amount of insulin, a good amount of glucose stays in our blood and this leads to diabetes.

Researchers also found that lack of sleep increases the production of ghrelin – a hormone which stimulates a person’s appetite.

Two of our biggest current health problems – the increasing rate of obesity and the growing number of sleep-deprived Americans are actually related.


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