How Losing Sleep Can Cause You to Pack on the Pounds

Not having enough closed eyes can have adverse effects on your health and on your waist.

If you are looking for another reason to sleep more hours, you may want to pay attention to new research conducted in Sweden that suggests that losing sleep can lead to weight gain.

Those who have chronic sleep problems, work irregular shift schedules or simply burn the midnight oil by looking at their smartphones may be at risk of lowering their metabolism.

The small observational study looked at 15 adults who had a normal weight and then had them go through two lab sessions. In one they slept eight hours. In the other, they stayed awake all night. After each session, the researchers took tissue samples from the subcutaneous fat, the fat that rests under the skin, and from the skeletal muscle.

This was done because these tissues can show where the metabolism has been affected by obesity and diabetes, for example.

Blood samples were also taken.

The researchers found that people who lost a night of sleep showed a specific tissue change in DNA methylation, a process that regulates gene expression. Those who slept a normal night, did not show this change

The researchers behind the study say these findings could be significant in helping people better understand the adverse effects that loss of sleep can have on the body and a person’s overall health.

Sleep’s impact on the metabolism

“Basically, we observed changes in the DNA methylation marks throughout the genome, mainly by exploring areas where the transcription (ie, expression) of the genes in our DNA molecules starts.” After waking at night, compared to normal sleep, we found changes in the DNA methylation of the genes that have been associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes, as well as with genes that regulate adipose tissue function, such as the way in which cells Fats absorb circulating fatty acids. “The lead author, Dr. Jonathan Cedernaes, a researcher at the neuroscience department at Uppsala University, Sweden, wrote in an email to Healthline. “Given that it is believed that epigenetic changes can serve as a kind of ‘metabolic memory’, we are excited that we, as the first group (as far as we know), have discovered these types of changes in adipose tissue as a result of work of simulated shift “.

He added that adipose tissue is a key organ that is linked to many of the negative effects on the body that come from sleep disorders and circadian rhythms. These findings are particularly relevant if you are someone doing shift work, which shows that the interrupted sleep cycles that can come with the night shifts of work one day and one regular morning begin the next, can really reduce your metabolism and increase your risk of obesity or type 2 diabetes.

“Changes in the epigenetic state, such as in DNA methylation, regulate the way in which genes must be activated or deactivated, and can be inherited and altered by the environment, but we are the first to show that loss of sleep produces alterations in the epigenetic state in key peripheral metabolic tissues, “Cedernaes wrote.

Aric A. Prather, PhD, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and the Weill Institute of Neurosciences at the University of California, San Francisco, told Healthline that although some previous studies have analyzed how sleep loss can cause changes in the related metabolic hormones For a person’s weight, this study takes it a step further.

“The results of this study provide new insights into the multitude of molecular mechanisms through which loss of sleep can affect metabolism and potentially weight gain,” said Prather, who was not part of this research.

Lately there has been a lot of news about the impact that the dream, and its lack, can have on our lives.

In our constant culture, in movement, where our devices keep us connected to the media and to entertainment at any time, it can feel as if we have to make ourselves comfortable to sleep in our busy schedules.

However, doctors say it really should be the other way around.

A domino effect on your health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the amount of sleep our bodies need varies by age.

A baby of 4 to 12 months of age needs between 12 and 16 hours of sleep, including regular naps, every 24 hours. By the time the child grows into a teenager, they need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep. It is recommended that the average adult, from 18 to 60 years, have 7 or more hours each day.

“We need to send the message to people that they should not accept sleep deprivation as a standard factor in life, or a condition they can finally overcome,” said Dr. Alon Avidan, MPH, professor and vice president of the department. of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) told Healthline. “Basically, you can not just get used to the lack of sleep, you can not borrow to sleep and pay for it on weekends, if you do that, then it has a very high interest rate.”

Avidan, who is also the director of the Sleep Disorders Center at UCLA, said that if you experience interruptions in your daily sleep, you should consult your primary care doctor. Do not let him wait.

He said that not getting enough sleep can have a domino effect on your health and life in general.

“You should not wait to have an accident or get involved in a dispute because you are tired. “You should not wait until you can not attend classes or have problems with your relationships,” Avidan emphasized. “People should start looking for solutions immediately that involve their primary care physician who looks for possible causes and finds possible solutions. It’s about taking the simple initiative about your health and knowing that the status quo is not acceptable. ”

A 2017 review examined a variety of studies to paint an image of the health impacts of a person’s long-term effects of sleep interruption on health. The authors found a series of short-term effects, such as the presence of mood disorders and disorders in a person’s memory and cognition. Severe long-term problems that were related to poor sleep habits included heart disease and hypertension.

For Avidan, he sees people too often dismiss sleep as not crucial to his health. He warned that we should stop taking it lightly. Getting your night’s sleep must be essential.

“The implications of this new study further confirm that lack of sleep is a time bomb,” said Avidan. “Their impacts may not be on the surface, they may not be very visible, but the sleep deprivation could manifest itself in several negative ways, physically, emotionally and, as this new research demonstrates, at the cellular level.”

Throwing off your body’s internal clock

Cedernaes said that this study was supposed to examine “acute” sleep loss, in the hope of mimicking the impacts that night shift work could have on someone’s sleep patterns.

However, although your research only looks at one night of sleep loss, it points to what might happen if you started to lose sleep more regularly.

“When you look at someone who has skipped an entire night of sleep like this, and you compare it with the data we have for people who skip two and a half nights of sleep (then, they are losing the same sleep hours in total, but at different time scales), their sensitivity to insulin decreases to the same extent, “he added. “For other research, we know that the adverse consequences may be different between acute and chronic sleep interruption.”

Can we simply “restart” our sleep schedule if we begin to experience a series of sleepless nights?

“It is possible that a single night of recovery sleep can restore most of the changes we observe. However, it may be that such a recovery dream has to occur at the “normal” times of the night, as more and more research suggests that sleep occurs during the day; otherwise, for most people, at the “wrong time” of our “24 hour day: it is less refreshing and dysregulates inflammation, possibly because our bodies have more difficulty sleeping during the day,” he wrote.

He added that sleep differs from person to person. But whether it’s a morning person or a night owl, our circadian rhythms have been programmed to allow sleep at night when it’s dark.

“Sleeping during the day runs the risk of not being completely synchronized with our circadian rhythms,” Cedernaes wrote.

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