Good Sleep Can Help Prevent Insulin Resistance

High fat diet and sleep deficiency are known to lead to impaired insulin sensitivity, but earlier it wasn’t clear which of these leads to more severe insulin resistance.

The Connection Between Sleep and Diabetes

Diabetes occur when your body fails to break down blood sugar (glucose), leaving your cells starved of energy. Obesity can greatly increase your chances of blood-sugar malfunction. Excess body fat can make it harder for body cells to properly utilize insulin, a vital hormone that maintains normal glucose levels in the body.

So what does sleep has to do with all this? Well, when you don’t get sufficient sleep, your body may need more insulin to maintain normal glucose levels. Actually, inadequate sleep alters the sympathetic nervous system- the main stress control center of the body- and ideal hormonal balance, all of which can greatly affect efficient regulation of glucose. Eventually, acute sleeplessness may cause insulin-producing body cells to stop working properly, elevating your glucose levels leaving you wide open to diabetes. In addition, extreme fatigue also jolts our sympathetic nervous system into high gear, reducing its ability to properly regulate blood sugar. Many experts point out that just two or three nights of sleeping three hours or less can temporarily disrupt the process.

Josaine Broussard, PHD, along with his colleagues from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA studies the canine model to understand the effects of sleep deprivation and high fat diet on insulin sensitivity.

A Night Without Sleep and 6 Months of High Fat Diet have the Save Negative Impact on Insulin Sensitivity

In a study carried out on dogs, insulin sensitivity was measured after a night without sleep and  after six months of high fat diet. It was found that after just one night with no sleep the insulin sensitivity dropped by 32 percent while after six months of high-fat diet, it dropped just 21 percent. This amply indicates the importance of sleep in diabetes prevention. This study also pointed out that further reduction in insulin sensitivity cannot occur after high fat diet has already done the damage. Apart from impaired insulin sensitivity, extensive sleep deprivation can also lead to increased food intake and overall risk of various metabolic diseases. This study demonstrates the significance of adequate sleep in maintaining ideal blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of metabolic diseases like diabetes and obesity.

Dr. Caroline Apovian, a fellow and spokesperson of The Obesity Society, says:

“ It’s very important for health practitioners to emphasize the significance of sleep to their patients. Many patients understand the importance of balanced diet for maintaining optimal health, but they may not have any idea on how critical sleep is for maintaining equilibrium in the body”

Dr. Caroline calls for further research to understand body mechanisms that account for interactions between diet and sleep and their relationship with insulin sensitivity, and whether it improves after adequate sleep.