Failing to sleep an adequate number of hours every night can impair your ability to maintain a healthy weight, a study in Sweden has confirmed. According to Healthline, the researchers wrote in the August issue of Science Advances that people who get more sleep, lose weight. For those who have trouble sleeping, they tend to experience slower metabolism. The study involved 15 adults with normal weight. They dozed off for eight hours, then stayed awake the following night.
After each session, researchers extracted tissue samples from the subcutaneous fat beneath the volunteers’ skin and skeletal muscles. The condition of the tissue is an indicator of metabolism levels.
Following a night with no sleep, study participants had “a tissue-specific shift in DNA methylation, a process that regulates gene expression,” the researchers wrote. The condition can eventually lead to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
The report’s lead author, Dr. Jonathan Cedernaes of the neuroscience department at Uppsala University in Sweden, said the study showed that people who work at night and then return to the job the following day are particularly at risk of metabolism changes that promote weight gain.
The research comes at a time when an increasing number of people are struggling to get enough sleep. Some work more than one job, while others stay up late using social media, surfing the internet or watching television.
The optimal sleeping time depends upon your age, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For instance, a child between 4 months and 1 year old should sleep for 12-16 hours daily. Teenagers need eight to 10 hours, while adults between 18 and 60 years of age are advised to get seven hours of shut-eye.
“We need to send the message to people that they should not accept sleep deprivation as a standard factor of life, or a condition that they will eventually just be able to overcome,” said Dr. Alon Avidan, a professor and vice chairman of the neurology department at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California in Los Angeles. “You cannot essentially just get used to sleep deprivation. You cannot borrow sleep and pay it off on the weekends. If you do that, then it comes at a very high interest rate.”
Avidan, who heads UCLA’s Sleep Disorders Center, recommended seeing a doctor immediately if you have trouble sleeping. “You should not wait to have an accident or get involved with a dispute because you are tired,” he said. “You should not wait to the point where you are unable to attend your classes or you have issues with your relationships.”
A review of multiple studies conducted last year revealed that abnormal mood shifts, memory loss and cognition difficulties are among the disorders that can result from sleep loss.
Avidan declared that “the implications of (the latest) study further confirm that sleep deprivation is a ticking bomb.” He explained: “Its impacts might not be on the surface, they might not be very visible, but sleep deprivation could be manifesting itself in a number of negative ways, physically, emotionally, and as this new research shows, on the cellular level.”
People who only occasionally fail to get enough sleep may not experience any problems. One good night’s sleep may compensate for a previous night’s wakefulness.
However, Cedernaes cautioned: “It may be that such recovery sleep needs to occur at normal times of the night, as more and more research is suggesting that sleep that occurs during the daytime … is less restorative and deregulates inflammation, possibly because our bodies have a harder time (going) to sleep during the daytime. … Sleeping during the day risks being completely out of sync with our circadian rhythms.”