Sleep Deprivation Linked to Insulin Resistance

A recent study indicates just how important sleep is to health: Study subjects who were sleep deprived showed a slow insulin response.

The study, published this month in Annals of Internal Medicine, looked at the insulin response of seven young people whose average age was about 24 years and who were otherwise healthy and at a normal weight.

Study subjects were assigned to spend four nights getting 8.5 hours sleep, and four nights getting just 4.5 hours sleep. These sleep deprivation segments were done about every four weeks. After the four-day course of sleep deprivation, researchers measured how well each person’s body managed glucose. They also took samples of body fat from the abdomen.

Sleep deprivation and insulin

The fat cells of the sleep deprived people had a 30 percent decreased ability to respond to insulin. The researchers also found that the insulin levels were nearly three times higher in the sleep deprived group than in the group that got adequate rest.

Matthew Brady, senior author on the study and associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center, said:

"It's always been thought that the primary function of sleep was for the brain, but in addition to the brain, your fat cells also need sleep. Too little sleep makes you groggy, and the same thing happens on a metabolic level. Cells don't behave as they normally would, and this can lead to insulin resistance."

This and other studies have shown a link between poor health outcomes, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, stroke high blood pressure, and insulin resistance, but they have not described the mechanics behind the poor health outcomes. "This is the first time that sleep has been studied at the cellular level," Brady said.

Sources:
http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=669619
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2656292/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19961/

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