A new study whose findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego, CA, this year suggests that losing 30 minutes of sleep results in lasting effects on weight and metabolism.
The experiment: Participants kept sleep diaries
522 patients, recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, were enlisted as participants by the team of researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College situated in Doha, Qatar.
Personal information of the participants, such as height, weight and waist circumference, was recorded.
Blood samples were also taken to test for insulin sensitivity.
Furthermore, to keep track of the sleep cycles of the patients, they were asked to keep sleep diaries. From this data, their “sleep debt” was calculated.
Results: Sleep debt associated with obesity & insulin resistance
Those having weekday sleep debt were allegedly 72 % more likely to suffer from obesity than those who did not suffer from weekday sleep debt.
“While previous studies have shown that short sleep duration is associated with obesity and diabetes, we found that as little as 30 minutes a day sleep debt can have significant effects on obesity and insulin resistance at follow-up,” says lead study author Prof. Shahrad Taheri.
A 6-month follow-up showed that the link between weekday sleep debt and obesity and insulin resistance was significant.
At 12-month follow-up, the scientists found that the patients had a 17 % increased risk of obesity and 39 % increased risk of insulin resistance for every 30 minutes of weekday sleep debt.
Interpreting the findings: Incorporating findings into future methods to fight metabolic diseases
The authors have therefore suggested that sleep and other variables affecting metabolism should be taken into consideration when devising ways to combat metabolic diseases.
Furthermore, weekday sleep debt is often compensated for during weekends. However, the findings indicate that making up for lost sleep in this manner might not solve the problem. Rather, avoiding having sleep debts in the first place would hopefully benefit metabolism.
“Sleep loss is widespread in modern society, but only in the last decade have we realized its metabolic consequences. Our findings suggest that avoiding sleep debt could have positive benefits for waistlines and metabolism and that incorporating sleep into lifestyle interventions for weight loss and diabetes might improve their success.”