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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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