New York: According to new research, lack of sleep can cause elevated levels of free fatty acids in the blood, as well as temporary pre-diabetic symptoms in healthy young men.
Insufficient sleep may disrupt fat metabolism and reduce insulin’s ability to regulate blood sugars, according to a study that looked at the impact of sleep loss on 24-hour fatty acid levels in the blood.
The researchers discovered that after three nights of only four hours of sleep, blood levels of fatty acids remained elevated from about 4 a.m. to 9 a.m., despite the fact that they usually peak and then decline overnight.
The ability of insulin to regulate blood sugars was reduced as long as fatty acid levels remained high,’ said Esra Tasali, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and the study’s senior author.
The findings shed new light on the links between sleep loss, insulin resistance, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes that were first discovered 15 years ago by University of Chicago researchers.
The researchers gathered 19 healthy male subjects between the ages of 18 and 30 for the study.
They discovered that sleep deprivation resulted in a 15 to 30% increase in fatty acid levels in the late night and early morning.
The nocturnal increase in fatty acids (from about 4 a.m. to 6 a.m.) was linked to a nearly five-hour increase in insulin resistance, which is a hallmark of pre-diabetes.
‘Limited sleep caused significant changes in growth hormone secretion and noradrenaline levels, which can lead to an increase in circulating fatty acids,’ said Josiane Broussard, the study’s lead author.
As a result, the benefits of insulin were significantly reduced.
‘This critical hormone was unable to perform its function. Insulin action in these healthy young men resembled that seen in people with diabetes in the early stages,’ he noted.
They concluded that something as simple as getting enough sleep could help combat the current diabetes and obesity epidemics.
Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, published the research.