Sleep little or adopt sleep patterns that do not correspond to our biological clock -Something that occurs when, for example, we work on the night shift or are frequently subjected to jet lag for traveling to areas with different time zones- it has repercussions on health and, in addition, increases the risk of gaining weight and developing diabetes.
Several studies have shown that insufficient rest can lead to obesity and increases the chances of suffering from diabetes, but they are based on short-term laboratory studies and epidemiological studies. Now, a group of scientists from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), in the United States, have carried out research, also in a controlled laboratory environment, but in the long term, in which a group of volunteers have been varying their sleep patterns, imitating the situations that occur in a repeated 'jet lag' and in the jobs in which rotations are rotated.
Sleeping little, or adopting sleep patterns that do not correspond with our biological clock, increases the risk of gaining weight and developing diabetes
In the investigation, which lasted six weeks and whose data have been published in Science Translational Medicine, 21 healthy volunteers participated. The researchers recorded both the total number of hours of sleep, when they slept, the activities they performed and their diet.
At the beginning of the study, the volunteers slept about ten hours during the night, and then, and for three weeks, the sleep period was reduced to 5-6 hours every 24 hours, but alternating these episodes throughout the day, and Sleeping at different times, as people whose work occupation forces them to rotate on duty. Therefore, they had to try to sleep at times that did not fit their circadian rhythms - which are the internal biological clock of the human being and are responsible for regulating the cycles of sleep and wakefulness.
The scientists found that by decreasing the number of hours of sleep maintained over time, coupled with the alteration of circadian rhythms, there was a reduction in metabolic recovery in these people and also increased the concentration of glucose in their blood after meals, because it decreased the secretion of insulin. The authors of the study indicate that this means that if the diet and activity of these people is not modified, their weight could increase more than 4.5 kilos a year with these altered sleep patterns, and they add that, by not secreting enough insulin , the increase in glucose concentration also makes them more likely to develop diabetes.