A preliminary study at the University of Chicago on non-obese patients demonstrated a significant increase in cellular insulin resistance in study patients who were sleep-deprived. Insulin resistance is a precursor to obesity and type II diabetes. Fat cells were most affected. Biopsies of abdominal fat cells in the sleep deprived patients demonstrated a 30% decrease in their insulin responsiveness but even total body insulin sensitivity was decreased by 16%. Researchers concluded that the increased serum insulin that is seen in insulin resistant patients ultimately results in increased fat storage and obesity. Followup studies were planned.
The Prescription Perspective: The relationship between lack of sleep and obesity has been known for many years. The reasons for this are less well-documented. The relationship of sleep deprivation to diabetes is also not well-defined. This interesting study points to a clear relationship between sleep deprivation in normal weight patients and the factors which are known to cause both obesity and type II diabetes. The results of followup studies on obese patients will be interesting; however, the message from the preliminary study is clear. You can’t sleep the weight off, but 6-8 hours of sleep per night should certainly minimize weight gain.