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Science Says One Night Of Poor Sleep Equals Six Months On A High-Fat Diet

Science Says One Night Of Poor Sleep Equals Six Months On A High-Fat Diet

You might have read the title of this post and incredulously wondered how on earth one night of poor sleep equals six months on a high-fat diet. Well, it all has to do with our insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a type of hormone that helps keep our blood sugar levels from getting too high (hyperglycemia) or too low (hypoglycemia).

According to a new study conducted by Josiane Broussard, PhD, and colleagues from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, one night of bad sleep lowers our body’s sensitivity to insulin in a similar degree as six months on a high-fat diet.

When the body becomes less sensitive to insulin or “insulin resistant,” it’s unable to produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar stable. This may eventually lead to Type 2 diabetes, a disease where there is too much sugar in the blood and the body’s insulin response doesn’t work properly.

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Diabetes is associated with a number of serious health complications, including heart disease. The less sensitive you are to the effects of insulin, the more trouble you have absorbing nutrients, digesting carbohydrates, and maintaining a healthy weight.

People who have a hard time maintaining a healthy weight or those with obesity are prone to develop insulin resistance and subsequently diabetes. It’s a terrible, vicious cycle that could all start with one night of poor sleep.

How poor sleep affects insulin sensitivity

In the study led by Dr Broussard, the researchers used a canine model to investigate whether sleep deprivation and high-fat diets affect insulin sensitivity in similar ways. They measured insulin sensitivity in eight male dogs before and after the dogs were fed a high-fat diet for six months. The researchers found that the dogs that were sleep deprived for one night had a decrease of 33 percent in insulin sensitivity. After being fed a high-fat diet, the canines had a 21 percent decrease.

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Although this study was done on animals and not humans, it is sill relevant. These types of basic scientific studies involving canines are common and play a critical role in helping to understand the causes and complications of obesity, as well as in identifying processes that may help with its prevention or cure. What this particular study, which was presented on November 5 at The Obesity Society Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, highlights is that pulling all-nighters is not good for the body.

“It is critical for health practitioners to emphasize the importance of sleep to their patients,” said Caroline M. Apovian, MD, FACP, FACN, a Fellow and spokesperson for The Obesity Society. “Many patients understand the importance of a balanced diet, but they might not have a clear idea of how critical sleep is to maintaining equilibrium in the body.”

Ramifications of sleep deprivation

Dr. Broussard noted that, “One night of sleep deprivation and six months of a high-fat diet both reduced insulin sensitivity by a similar degree in canines. However, there was no additive effect of sleep loss and high-fat diet.” Relating these findings to humans, Dr. Broussard added: “This [study] may suggest a similar mechanism by which both insufficient sleep and a high-fat diet induce insulin resistance. It could also mean that after high-fat feeding, insulin sensitivity cannot be reduced further by sleep loss.”

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Perhaps referring to numerous other studies (and there have been many this year) that have correlated the ramifications of sleep deprivation on insulin sensitivity, Dr. Broussard said: “Research has shown that sleep deficiency and a high-fat diet both lead to impaired insulin sensitivity, but it was previously unknown which leads to more severe insulin resistance.”

“Our study,” he continued, “suggests that one night of total sleep deprivation may be as detrimental to insulin sensitivity as six months on a high-fat diet. This research demonstrates the importance of adequate sleep in maintaining blood sugar levels and reducing risk for metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes.”

The takeaway

If there is one thing you can take away from this study, it is that you should take your sleep habits seriously. Get enough sleep each night, 7 to 9 hours at least. And if you think missing one hour or one night of sleep is not a big deal, then think again. Another study published in Diabetes Care showed how seven Type 1 diabetics suffered peripheral insulin resistance after just one night of four hours sleep.

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The good news, though, is that some of the damage caused by sleep deprivation (such as decreased insulin sensitivity and other metabolic issues) can be reversed with recovery sleep. So, go to bed a half-hour earlier to pay your sleep debt. And tuck in by a reasonable hour every night for sleep.

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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