If you’re losing sleep, you’re bound to start gaining weight. This is according to research from Uppsala University.

Losing sleep – even just a night – affects the body in a way that makes it prone to gaining weight.

Researchers found that one night of sleep loss has a tissue-specific impact on the regulation of gene expression and metabolism in humans.

This may explain how shift work and chronic sleep loss impairs our metabolism and adversely affects our body composition.

Chronic sleep loss and type 2 diabetes linked

Previous studies have shown that the risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes is elevated in those who suffer from chronic sleep loss or who carry out shift work.

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Other studies have shown an association between disrupted sleep and adverse weight gain, in which fat accumulation is increased at the same time as the muscle mass is reduced – a combination that in and of itself has been associated with numerous adverse health consequences.

The study

Researchers from Uppsala studied 15 healthy normal-weight individuals who participated in two in-lab sessions in which activity and meal patterns were highly standardised.

The participants slept a normal night of sleep (over eight hours) during one session and were instead kept awake the entire night during the other session.

The morning after each night-time intervention, small tissue samples (biopsies) were taken from the participants’ subcutaneous fat and skeletal muscle. These two tissues often exhibit disrupted metabolism in conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

At the same time in the morning, blood samples were also taken to enable a comparison across tissue compartments of a number of metabolites. These metabolites comprise sugar molecules, as well as different fatty and amino acids.

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Sleep loss impacts genes

The analysed tissue samples revealed that the sleep loss condition resulted in a tissue-specific change in DNA methylation, one form of mechanism that regulates gene expression.

“Our research group were the first to demonstrate that acute sleep loss in and of itself results in epigenetic changes in the so-called clock genes that within each tissue regulate its circadian rhythm. Our new findings indicate that sleep loss causes tissue-specific changes to the degree of DNA methylation in genes spread throughout the human genome. Our parallel analysis of both muscle and adipose tissue further enabled us to reveal that DNA methylation is not regulated similarly in these tissues in response to acute sleep loss,” says Jonathan Cedernaes, who led the study.

Source: Uppsala University via www.sciencedaily.com

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