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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 13, 2018

12 Practical Tips To Stay Fit For Christmas

12 Practical Tips To Stay Fit For Christmas

Christmas is approaching fast, and lots of people not only tend to ruin their usual diets, but they also gain a few extra pounds. Based on studies, the majority of people tend to gain additional weight during the holiday season that starts at the Thanksgiving Day and ends with the New Year celebrations. Excessive eating is claimed to be the main cause for the additional weight gain, but it is also due to lack of physical activity and exercise.

A lot of individuals out there tend to set aside their fitness routines during the holidays since they believe that they do not have enough time to perform their workouts. And because they feel guilty after the holiday season, most of the gyms and fitness centers are packed with fresh members. Always bear in mind that you can still enjoy the holidays and stay fit at the same time. If you want to stay fit during the holiday season, especially during Christmas and the New Year’s Eve, here are some useful tips that might help you:

1. Eat Before Heading Out

First, it is best that you eat something before heading out to visits, trips or family dinners. By doing so, you will no longer be tempted to eat a lot or overindulge yourself since you have already eaten. Skipping on meals is not a good idea either, because you will only be forced to eat more later.

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2. Select The Treats

Make sure to select the treats that you eat in a wise manner. You should choose something that you can only enjoy during the holiday season and not something that is readily available all the time.

3. Avoid Skipping Meals

Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast! Even though it can be tempting to skip on certain meals, believing that it will make up for the treats you consumed in the previous day, don’t do it because it will only lead to counterproductive results.

4. Drink With Moderation

It is best to regulate your drinking since alcohol, coke or other juices will only add more calories to the ones you already eaten!

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5. Be Active

You should still perform your fitness routine whenever possible and if you can’t do that, simply walk more, park your car some distance away from the store or just use the stairs!

6. Get Out Of The House

Make the holidays a family affair and plan outdoor activities where everyone is involved. Even a snowball fight in the backyard will burn a lot of calories and will keep the children entertained.

7. Don’t Skip Your Strength Workouts

Always remember to perform your strength training in order to maintain that muscle mass you worked hard to get. You might be tempted to use lightweights and just do some cardio, but you can burn just as many calories by lifting weights. And with all of those extra stakes you had on the holiday meals, you might even gain some extra muscle. And this is much better than gaining some extra fat.

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8. Set Realistic Goals

You should set realistic exercise objectives. Aim for at least half an hour per day and you will be very happy when you will achieve that. If you plan one hour or more and not achieve it, you will only end up disappointed.

9. Enjoy Yourself

Also make sure to set realistic diet plans! Trying to restrain yourself totally from some foods will only make you eat more. Feel free to enjoy the treats that you really love, but in small portions.

10. Drink A Lot Of Water

This can satiate your appetite as well as keep you hydrated at all times. And it will also prevent a possible hangover if you overdo it with alcohol.

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11. Eat Less And More Often

Distribute your meals evenly throughout the day, and do not eat everything at once.  Instead of having 2 enormous meals, have 5 small ones.  Eat your dinner earlier and have a nice walk before going to bed.

12. Prioritize Your Workouts

Try to do them early in the morning while everyone else is still sleeping. This way you will also avoid remarks like “Oh, come on! It’s Christmas…”

So there you go! Twelve simple tips that will help you avoid gaining weight during the winter holidays, but will also allow you to enjoy yourself and have a great time with your loved ones.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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