Lack of sleep affects fat metabolism: Study

Washington: Healthy sleep habits can make a big difference in one’s life but work week keeps us all a bit short on sleep, which can be severely harmful, says a study.

In the Journal of Lipid Research, researchers at Pennsylvania State University reported that just a few days of sleep deprivation can make participants feel less full after eating and metabolise the fat in food differently.

Sleep disruption has been known to be having harmful effects on metabolism for some time.

Orfeu Buxton, a professor at Penn State and one of the senior authors of the new study, contributed to a lot of the research demonstrating that long-term sleep restriction puts people at a higher risk of obesity and diabetes.

However, Buxton said, most of those studies have focused on glucose metabolism, which is important for diabetes, while relatively few have assessed digestion of lipids from food.

Kelly Ness, now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington, ran the study when she was a graduate student in Buxton’s lab. After participants spent a week getting plenty of sleep at home, she said, the 15 healthy men in their 20s checked into the sleep lab for the ten-night study.

For five of those nights, the participants spent no more than five hours in bed each night.

To find out how the uncomfortable schedule affected metabolism, the researchers gave participants a standardised high-fat dinner, a bowl of chilli mac, after four nights of sleep restriction.

“It was very palatable — none of our subjects had trouble finishing it — but very calorically dense,” Ness said. Most participants felt less satisfied after eating the same rich meal while sleep-deprived than when they had eaten it well-rested.

Then researchers compared blood samples from the study participants. They found that sleep restriction affected the postprandial lipid response, leading to faster clearance of lipids from the blood after a meal.

This study was highly controlled, which makes it an imperfect model for the real world, Ness said. It focused on healthy young people, who are usually at a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and all of the participants were men.

The researchers also wondered whether giving more recovery time would change the magnitude of recovery they observed.
Nonetheless, according to Buxton, the study gives worthwhile insight into how we handle fat digestion.

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