A new study reports that losing about 30 minutes of sleep per day can have long-term consequences related to body weight and metabolism. The study, conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Bristol and Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, found that losing about half an hour of sleep on weekdays can cause weight gain and negatively affect your blood sugar level.
Though many previous studies have found that fall in sleep duration is associated with obesity and diabetes, the new study suggests that as little as 30 minutes ‘sleep debt’ (a measure of the difference in the nightly hours asleep on week days and at the weekend) a day could have a considerable impact on obesity and insulin resistance at follow-up.
The researchers evaluated the sleeping habits of about 522 patients with newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetes mellitus in the Early Activity in diabetes trial. The participants were put into one of the following three groups – usual care, physical activity intervention, or diet and physical activity intervention.
The participants kept 7-day sleep dairies and calculated their weekday sleep debt. The researchers measured the participant’s body height and weight to determine their obesity status and their waist circumference to understand central adiposity. They also analyzed their fasting blood samples for insulin sensitivity. It was found that:
- When compared with participants who had no weekday sleep debt, those who had the same were 72% more likely to be obese.
- By the end of the 6-month mark, weekday sleep debt showed significant links to obesity and insulin resistance.
- By the end of 12 months, for every 30-minutes of weekday sleep debt at baseline, the chances of obesity and insulin resistance increased by 17% and 39%, respectively.
The researchers recommend that future interventions aimed at slowing the progression of or reversing metabolic disease should consider the importance of sleep along with other factors that affect metabolic function such as exercise and healthy diet patterns.