Eating healthy and staying active are great ways to control your weight. However, getting enough high quality sleep every night is also an important factor in body weight. A recent study by researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in Doha, Qatar found that losing sleep can raise your diabetes and obesity risk.
The study looked at over 500 adults with type 2 diabetes. They were divided into groups, and were given either standard care, an exercise program, or a nutrition and exercise program. Blood tests, waist measurements, and sleep diaries were compiled as data for the study. Those who did not get proper sleep, or had “sleep debt,” were nearly three-fourths more likely to be obese than those without sleep debt. At 6 months, sleep debt was strongly linked with being obese and having insulin resistance, which are big risk factors for diabetes. At 12 months, for every 30 minutes of sleep debt, the subjects were nearly one-fifth more likely to be obese and over one-third more likely to have insulin resistance. During sleep, your metabolism, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels are getting a chance to be controlled by the body at rest. When you do not get enough sleep, these levels in your body are not well controlled, so they stay higher than they should. Having high blood pressure and high blood glucose levels over time can wear out your body, and make insulin less effective at moving glucose throughout the body to be used for energy. This glucose floats in the bloodstream and can cause you to crave high-carb foods for energy. In turn, this can lead to increased fat storage, obesity, and, over time, type 2 diabetes. It is suggested that those at risk for metabolic syndrome (which includes high blood pressure, high blood glucose, and obesity) should make getting enough sleep a top priority.