60-Second Health

Your Fat Needs Sleep, Too

A small study finds that sleep-deprived fat cells are less sensitive to insulin, a condition that often precedes diabetes. Katherine Harmon reports

Sleep is good for you. Getting by on too little sleep increases the risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and other illnesses. It also makes it harder to lose weight or stay slim because sleep deprivation makes you hungrier and less likely to be active during the day.

Now, research shows that sleep also affects fat cells. Our fat cells play an important role in regulating energy use and storage, including insulin processing.

For the study, young, healthy, slim subjects spent four nights getting eight and a half hours of sleep and four nights getting only four and a half hours of sleep. The difference in their fat cells was startling: after sleep deprivation, the cells became 30 percent less receptive to insulin signals—a difference that is as large as that between non-diabetic and diabetic patients. The findings are in Annals of Internal Medicine. [Josiane Broussard et al., Impaired Insulin Signaling in Human Adipocytes After Experimental Sleep Restriction]

Looks like sleep is even more important than we thought for keeping our metabolisms running well. So consider this a wake-up call—to get enough sleep.

—Katherine Harmon

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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