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Why lack of sleep can lead to obesity
Obesity and obesity are associated with significant health disadvantages. The cause of excessive weight gain is usually sought in the combination of improper nutrition and lack of exercise. However, sleep disorders could also be a significant risk factor, according to a recent study. An international research team found that a night without sleep had a significant negative impact on metabolism, increasing the risk of weight gain.
The international research group headed by Jonathan Cedernaes from Uppsala University in Sweden found in the current study that even one night's sleep loss has an impact on the regulation of gene expression and metabolism in humans. This would initiate processes that promote weight gain and muscle breakdown. The scientists have published their results in the scientific journal "Science Advances".
Relationship between disturbed sleep and weight gain
Earlier epidemiological studies had shown that the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes is significantly increased in people who suffer from repeated sleep deprivation or do shift work, the researchers report. In other studies, a connection between disturbed sleep and unfavorable weight gain was also proven. "However, it was not previously known whether sleep loss per se can cause molecular changes at the tissue level that pose an increased risk of undesirable weight gain," the scientists explain in a press release from Uppsala University on the study results.
Tissue and blood samples examined
In the new study, the researchers examined 15 healthy, normal-weight people who participated in two laboratory sessions in which activity and food intake were highly standardized. Participants were allowed to sleep normally (in random order) during one session (over eight hours) and instead were kept up all night in the second session. The morning after, small tissue samples (biopsies) were taken from the participants' subcutaneous fat and skeletal muscle tissue. Blood samples were also taken at the same time in the morning to allow a comparison between tissue samples and the number of metabolites in the blood. These metabolites include sugar molecules as well as various fatty and amino acids, the scientists explain.
Altered gene expression in adipose tissue
The tissue samples were used for multiple molecular analyzes, in which it could be demonstrated for the first time that sleep loss leads to a tissue-specific change in DNA methylation, the researchers report. This is how gene expression is changed. "It is interesting that we were only able to observe changes in DNA methylation in the adipose tissue, and especially for genes that were also shown to be changed in metabolic impairments such as obesity and type 2 diabetes," he said Director of Studies Jonathan Cedernaes.
Increased fat storage and muscle breakdown
In their investigations, the scientists observed molecular signatures of increased inflammation values in the tissue samples after the loss of sleep. Specific molecular signatures were also found, "suggesting that adipose tissue increases its ability to store fat after sleep loss, while showing signs of skeletal muscle protein breakdown, also called catabolism," Cedernaes reports. In summary, the current study offers, at least in part, an explanation for "why chronic sleep loss and shift work can increase the risk of unwanted weight gain and the risk of type 2 diabetes." (Fp)