Thursday, October 18, 2012

Are Groggy Cells Making You Gain Weight?

We've known for a long time that adequate sleep is important in helping you think clearly, perform efficiently and feel your best. Over recent years, scientists have noticed that there are also correlations between sleep and weight. In a new study, published in Tuesday's issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers took a closer look at our bodies' response to too little sleep...and how it can definitely affect your health in a multitude of ways.

Lack of sleep makes you feel groggy, but did you know that it makes your cells groggy too? Here's the low down:
  • Your cells use insulin to help break down food into fuel for your body. 
  • Metabolically "tired" cells (resulting from lack of sleep) have a 16% decreased response to insulin.
  • "Tired" cells also have 30% decreased insulin sensitivity, or the ability to use insulin properly.

When cells don't use insulin as they should:
  1. You may be fatigued from lack of energy.
  2. Fat cells don't metabolize fats from your diet as well, which means they are left in the blood stream. That can be a cause for high cholesterol and triglycerides which increases the risk for heart attack and stroke. Fats in the blood may get stored in other tissues, such as the liver, too.
  3. Insulin resistance is a precursor to diabetes, a disease in which the body cannot process glucose efficiently, and can lead to serious complications.
Lack of sleep can also be a culprit when it comes to weight gain because it decreases levels of a "fullness hormone" called leptin. When leptin levels are low, your brains sends you a signal that says, "I'm hungry." An increased appetite can easily lead to overeating, or at least eating more calories than our body needs. Combine that with lack of energy to prepare a meal and you've got two strikes against you. This imbalance of satiety (fullness) hormones is also related to the cells' decreased sensitivity to insulin.

Those who participated in the study were sleep deprived for only four nights, enough to impact their fat cells' response to insulin. You can image the kind of effect chronic sleep deprivation and sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea, could have on your body and your health.

Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Do you get enough?