Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that “too little sleep or sleep patterns that are inconsistent with our body’s internal biological clock may lead to increased risk of diabetes and obesity,” according to a BWH news release. The study was posted online in Science Translational Medicine.
For three weeks, 21 healthy people endured as little as 5.6 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period to mimic a possible night shift schedule. The study’s participants attempted “to sleep at unusual times within their internal circadian cycle – the body’s internal biological clock that regulates sleep-wake and many other processes within our bodies,” the release states.
As a result, the study participants had lower resting metabolic rates that could cause them to gain more than 10 pounds in a year if they kept the same diet and activity level. Additionally, they had higher concentrations of glucose in their blood and “poor insulin secretion by the pancreas,” both factors increasing the risk for diabetes.
“We think these results support the findings from studies showing that, in people with a pre-diabetic condition, shift workers who stay awake at night are much more likely to progress to full-on diabetes than day workers,” said lead author and neuroscientist Orfeu M. Buxton, in the news release. “Since night workers often have a hard time sleeping during the day, they can face both circadian disruption working at night and insufficient sleep during the day. The evidence is clear that getting enough sleep is important for health, and that sleep should be at night for best effect.”
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