A single night of sleep deprivation can cause as much insulin resistance as six months on a high-fat diet, according to new animal research from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body does not use insulin efficiently to move glucose from the blood into the cells and is a characteristic feature of both Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.
Previous research looking into sleep and diabetes has indicated that short sleep duration can increase levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin, can stimulate production of the stress hormone cortisol and decrease glucose tolerance, and may triple the risk of developing impaired fasting glucose. To investigate whether sleep deprivation causes insulin resistance in a similar fashion as a high-fat diet, researchers deprived eight male dogs of a night’s sleep, then tested their insulin sensitivity using an intravenous glucose tolerance test, comparing the results to those of dogs who had a normal night’s sleep. The dogs were then given a high-fat diet for six months before having their insulin sensitivity tested again.
The researchers found that the night of sleep deprivation decreased insulin sensitivity by 33%, while six months of a high-fat diet decreased it by 21%.
“Our study suggests that one night of total sleep deprivation may be as detrimental to insulin sensitivity as six months on a high-fat diet,” said study author Josaine Broussard, PhD. “This research demonstrates the importance of adequate sleep in maintaining blood sugar levels and reducing risk for metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes.”
Caroline M. Apovian, MD, FACP, FACN, a spokesperson for The Obesity Society, added that “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.”
Further studies should investigate whether insulin resistance decreases after “recovery sleep,” the researchers state.
For more information, read the article “Sleep well to avoid insulin resistance” or see the press release and study abstract from the Obesity Society. And for more information about improving your sleep, see “Getting the Sleep You Need,” by nurse David Spero.
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