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The Importance of Sleep for Metabolism

Posted on September 23, 2015

Why does your endocrinologist ask you how your sleep has been?

One night of sleep loss can influence several genes in the body, that can lead to metabolic effects.

According to a study recently published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, these metabolic effects can include insulin resistance and weight gain. This was a study that looked at young adults who experienced both overnight wakefulness and decreased sleep duration. Even short-term changes in sleep were associated with a decrease in the efficiency with which the body processed sugar. Some of these changes were directly linked to changes in the way the body processes genes. A process called methylation was affected and this leads to slower metabolism.

The researchers took tissue samples, including small pieces of fatty tissues from under the skin of the study participants. They noted that the way these tissues broke down sugars and fats were slower in people who did not get a good night’s sleep. Researchers also saw reduced concentrations of the adrenal gland hormone cortisol in participants after sleep deprivation

These findings underline the importance of sleep for metabolism. Sleep requirements change from person to person, but a minimum of 7 hours a night is recommended for most people.