One Night of Poor Sleep Equals Six Months on a High-Fat Diet

When it comes to insulin sensitivity, one night of poor sleep may affect blood sugar levels similarly to six months on a high-fat diet, a new study reports.

Using a canine model to examine how sleep deprivation affected insulin sensitivity, researchers discovered that insulin resistance can be dramatically improved with adequate sleep.

"Research has shown that sleep deficiency and a high-fat diet both lead to impaired insulin sensitivity, but it was previously unknown which leads to more severe insulin resistance," said Dr. Josiane Broussard, from the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA.

Increased food intake, risk for disease

Researchers measured the insulin sensitivity in eight male dogs before they were fed a high-fat diet for six months.

Using an IV glucose test, the team determined that one night of sleep deprivation reduced insulin sensitivity by 33 percent. A high-fat diet alone reduced insulin sensitivity by 21 percent.

After the dogs ate a high-fat diet for several months and had diet-induced insulin resistance, sleep deprivation did not appear to further impair the insulin response.

"This may suggest a similar mechanism by which both insufficient sleep and a high-fat diet induce insulin resistance," Broussard said. "It could also mean that after high-fat feeding, insulin sensitivity cannot be reduced further by sleep loss."

The authors note that in addition to impaired insulin sensitivity, lack of sleep can lead to increased food intake and a higher risk for metabolic diseases, like diabetes.

"It is critical for health practitioners to emphasize the importance of sleep to their patients," said Dr. Caroline M. Apovian, spokesperson for The Obesity Society. "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."

Source: Obesity Society

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