For some people, the key to better weight control might just lie in a good night's sleep. There are a series of hormonal reactions to lack of sleep that could play a role: in increased cortisol and lower growth hormone, for example. Studies published as early as 2007 have associated sleep deprivation with Type 2 diabetes. Recent studies show associations with metabolic syndrome and insulin secretion.
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Study 1: According to a study published in 2011 in the journal Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine, getting enough rest could be helpful in preventing the metabolic syndrome. Researchers in the Department of Preventive Medicine, Woniu College of Medicine, Yonsei University in Korea, looked at short sleep duration and the metabolic syndrome in middle-aged people... and their results should encourage people not to neglect sleep.
Metabolic syndrome was defined as a combination of:
- high waist circumference,
- high blood cholesterol,
- high blood pressure, and
- high blood sugar.
Three hundred and eighty-six men and 721 women were included in the study. Participants sleeping 6 hours or less per day were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome than those who slept 6 to 7.9 hours per day. The association was seen only in women, but more women were included in the study.
Study 2: The journal Diabetes Care, published in October 2011, reported the results of a study on changes in insulin secretion and sensitivity in volunteers who got little sleep and also had parents diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The research was conducted at the University of Chicago in the United States:
Forty-seven healthy people were included in the study. Those who got an average of 1.5 hours less sleep than more well-rested volunteers, had more insulin resistance and secreted more insulin to maintain the same tolerance for sugar. In susceptible individuals, such as those with a family history of Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance can lead to full-blown type 2 diabetes.
According to a report in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research October 2011, loss of sleep could interfere with the hypothalamus, a part of the brain involved in functions such as hunger, which could affect the pituitary and adrenal glands, which indirectly have to do with the regulation of blood sugar. Sleep loss could alter the normal patter of growth hormone, which is released from the pituitary and has to do with blood sugar levels.
Sleep deprivation also increases tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6, both involved in inflammation and diabetes. With lack of sleep the body suffers from lack of leptin and adiponectin, molecules that help to regulate fat metabolism and insulin sensitivity.
It is true sleep deprivation has become epidemic in the industrialized world, but that need not be the case. Getting your full eight hours of sleep is not a luxury, so put aside enough time each night for getting enough rest.
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