Working the night shift can put you at risk of developing diabetes. So can pulling all-nighters, staying up late with a fussy baby, and engaging in other late-night activities that interrupt normal sleep patterns.
That’s the latest word from researchers from Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, based on a study of mice that showed proper sleep habits are critical for healthy metabolic function.
The study, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal, found chronic sleep disturbances upset the body’s internal 24-hour “biological clock” and that can lead to serious health consequences, including diabetes and obesity.
“We should acknowledge the unforeseen importance of our 24-hour rhythms for health,” said Claudia Coomans, a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Molecular Cell Biology in the Laboratory of Neurophysiology at Leiden University. “To quote Seneca 'We should live according to nature….’ ”
To reach their conclusions, Coomans and colleagues exposed mice to constant light, which disturbed their normal internal clock function. Eventually the mice’s bodies lost their natural ability to regulate their metabolism and insulin sensitivity, increasing their odds of weight gain and diabetes.
Coomans said the findings indicated even relatively mild impairment of natural wake-sleep cycles can have severe metabolic consequences in mice, as well as men and women.
“The good news is that some of us can ‘sleep it off’ to avoid obesity and diabetes,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., editor of the FASEB Journal. “The bad news is that we can all get the metabolic doldrums when our normal day/night cycle is disrupted.”
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