Science has known for some years that getting less sleep than your body needs can lead to increased desire for fatty foods and thus weight gain. New research shows just how little of a sleep deficit is needed.
“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,” said lead study author Professor Shahrad Taheri, MBBS, PhD, professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, in Doha. “This reinforces earlier observations that sleep loss is additive and can have metabolic consequences.”
Professor Taheri and his colleagues recruited 522 patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus. Participants completed 7-day sleep diaries and calculated their weekday sleep debt. At baseline, the researchers recorded their height and weight to determine obesity status, measured their waist circumference, and analyzed their fasting blood samples for insulin sensitivity.
At baseline, compared with participants who had no weekday sleep debt, those who had weekday sleep debt were 72% more likely to be obese, and by the 6-month mark, weekday sleep debt was significantly associated with obesity and insulin resistance. At 12 months, for every 30 minutes of weekday sleep debt at baseline, the risk of obesity and insulin resistance was significantly increased by 17% and 39%, respectively.
The findings of the research were recently presented at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego.
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