The obesity crisis sweeping developing nations isn’t going to be “fixed” anytime soon. And now a new study is adding problems for those who are overweight. A lack of sleep could actually be yet another cause of packing on a few pounds.
Sleep is necessary for the body to recover from the exertion of the day’s activities. Poor sleep has been linked to depression and anxiety and obesity before, but now it isn’t just the late night snack that is the main culprit, writes The Guardian. The study didn’t solely focus on obesity either. A poor night’s sleep regularly could lead to heart disease and diabetes too. The study found an increase in inflammation in the body after sleep deprivation, which is a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Jonathan Cedernaes, who is a circadian researcher at Uppsala University in Sweden and the paper’s first author, said the findings pointed to “the irreplaceable function that sleep has. Sleep is not just to conserve energy, it has so many functions,” he said.
Insufficient sleep appears to disrupt the hormones that control one’s appetite and their feelings of fullness. Compounding the problem is those who sleep less have more time to eat and could be too tired to exercise. They also have less self-control when it comes to resisting the temptation of unhealthy snacks. A previous study by Cedernaes and colleagues showed that even a short period of sleep deprivation led people to eat more and opt for higher calorie foods.
The latest study provides new evidence that sleep deprivation having a direct influence on basic metabolism and the body’s balance between fat and muscle mass.
In the study, published in the journal Science Advances, 15 healthy volunteers each attended a testing session on two occasions, once after a normal night’s sleep and once after staying up all night. During the visit, they gave samples of fat and muscle tissue and blood.
After sleep deprivation, people’s fat tissue showed changes in gene activity that are linked to cells increasing their tendency to absorb lipids and also to proliferate.
By contrast, in muscle, the scientists saw reduced levels of structural proteins, which are the building blocks the body requires to maintain and build muscle mass. Previous epidemiological studies have also found shift workers and those who sleep less have lower muscle mass. This may be in part down to lifestyle factors, but the latest work shows that there are also fundamental biological mechanisms at play. –The Guardian
“Sleep loss by itself is reducing proteins that are the key components of muscle,” said Cedernaes. But he did add that a proper diet and some exercise could help mitigate and offset some of the problems brought on by lack of sleep.
As with almost every study, the researchers have said that further evidence is needed to properly connect obesity to a lack of sleep.
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