Sleep debt affects metabolic functions

October 20, 1999

Chronic sleep loss can have a detrimental effect on metabolic functions, new research shows.

"The state of sleep debt has a harmful impact on carbohydrate metabolism and endocrine function," write Karine Spiegel, PhD, and colleagues in the October 23, 1999 issue of The Lancet, a leading British medical journal. These effects are commonly seen as part of the normal aging process, and persistent sleep debt may, therefore, increase the severity of age-related chronic disorders.

During this century, the average number of hours that people spend asleep per night in more-developed countries has decreased from nine hours to 7.5 hours. The change has been made to accommodate increased demands of work, with around-the-clock production, shift work, etc, as well as more leisure activities. The consensus is that sleep is beneficial for the brain but not for the rest of the body. There have been reports that the number of hours asleep each night can be voluntarily decreased without affecting daytime sleepiness, mood, or cognitive function.

The scientists at the Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, investigated whether sleep debt can alter metabolic and hormonal functions. Eleven young men were enrolled into the study, and their carbohydrate metabolism and hormonal functions were studied. For the first three nights, the men were in bed for eight hours (fully rested condition). For six nights they were in bed for four hours per night (sleep-debt condition), and for the last seven nights they were in bed for 12 hours per night. The investigators took measurements during the day of glucose tolerance, cortisol concentrations (a hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar concentrations), heart rate, sleepiness, and the profiles of hormones of the hypothalamus, and the pituitary and adrenal glands.

At the end of the sleep-debt conditions, glucose concentrations in the blood were higher than in the fully rested conditions, and concentrations of thyrotropin, which regulates the release of thyroid hormones, were lower. Cortisol concentrations in the evening were increased after sleep debt, as was the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which controls many of the body's "involuntary" functions.

The research was supported by a grant from the Research Network on Mind-Body Interactions of the MacArthur Foundation, by a grant from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and by grants from the National Institutes of Health.
-end-
Posted by the Center for the Advancement of Health < http://www.cfah.org >. For information about the Center, call Petrina Chong, < pchong@cfah.org > (202) 387-2829.

Center for Advancing Health

Related Sleep Articles from Brightsurf:

Size and sleep: New research reveals why little things sleep longer
Using data from humans and other mammals, a team of scientists including researchers from the Santa Fe Institute has developed one of the first quantitative models that explains why sleep times across species and during development decrease as brains get bigger.

Wind turbine noise affects dream sleep and perceived sleep restoration
Wind turbine noise (WTN) influences people's perception of the restorative effects of sleep, and also has a small but significant effect on dream sleep, otherwise known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, a study at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows.

To sleep deeply: The brainstem neurons that regulate non-REM sleep
University of Tsukuba researchers identified neurons that promote non-REM sleep in the brainstem in mice.

Chronic opioid therapy can disrupt sleep, increase risk of sleep disorders
Patients and medical providers should be aware that chronic opioid use can interfere with sleep by reducing sleep efficiency and increasing the risk of sleep-disordered breathing, according to a position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

'Short sleep' gene prevents memory deficits associated with sleep deprivation
The UCSF scientists who identified the two known human genes that promote 'natural short sleep' -- nightly sleep that lasts just four to six hours but leaves people feeling well-rested -- have now discovered a third, and it's also the first gene that's ever been shown to prevent the memory deficits that normally accompany sleep deprivation.

Short sleep duration and sleep variability blunt weight loss
High sleep variability and short sleep duration are associated with difficulties in losing weight and body fat.

Nurses have an increased risk of sleep disorders and sleep deprivation
According to preliminary results of a new study, there is a high prevalence of insufficient sleep and symptoms of common sleep disorders among medical center nurses.

Common sleep myths compromise good sleep and health
People often say they can get by on five or fewer hours of sleep, that snoring is harmless, and that having a drink helps you to fall asleep.

Sleep tight! Researchers identify the beneficial role of sleep
Why do animals sleep? Why do humans 'waste' a third of their lives sleeping?

Does extra sleep on the weekends repay your sleep debt? No, researchers say
Insufficient sleep and untreated sleep disorders put people at increased risk for metabolic problems, including obesity and diabetes.

Read More: Sleep News and Sleep Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.