Sleepless Nights and Your Health

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Story Updated: Oct 17, 2012

Sleepless nights may make you feel miserable the next day...but according to brand new research, they may also lead to serious metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes and obesity.

In a small study at the University of Chicago...seven healthy men and women ages 18 to 30 were studied in a sleep lab during two time periods, at least four weeks apart. Participants had four nights of 8-and a half hours of sleep and four nights of just 4 and a half hours. Physical activity and caloric intake were strictly controlled each time.

At the end of each session, participants were given glucose-tolerance tests to measure insulin sensitivity, and also had abdominal fat cell biopsies to measure how they responded to insulin. After the four nights of restricted sleep, total-body insulin response decreased by an average of 16 percent, and insulin sensitivity of fat cells decreased by 30 percent.

Translated...the researchers say this sleep deprived response amounts to the fat cells in these healthy volunteers acting like that of an obese or diabetic patient.

While more study is needed on exactly how much sleep is needed to avoid these metabolic changes....a healthy diet, exercise and adequate sleep is always advised.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV, with the news doctors are reading health news that matters to you.

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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, is part of a family of companies that finances and delivers vital health care services to 1.8 million people across upstate New York. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provides access to high-quality, affordable health coverage, including valuable health-related resources that our members use every day, such as cost-saving prescription drug discounts and wellness tracking tools in our Step Up program. To learn more, visit www.excellusbcbs.com